` Italian Olive Oil Sales Up in Latest Report - Olive Oil Times

Italian Olive Oil Sales Up in Latest Report

Feb. 9, 2011
Lucy Vivante

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Italy’s olive oil pack­agers’ prof­its grew sub­stan­tially in the final two months of 2010 accord­ing to ASSITOL. On the domes­tic front, sales increased by 31 per­cent and export sales by 22.4 per­cent. In rela­tion to the entire 2009 — 2010 time period, ASSITOL reports an increase of 21.6 per­cent. This num­ber reflects gains both here and abroad, and is wel­come news after a slow start to the year. ASSITOL is the Association of Italy’s Oil Industry. Its mem­bers are pack­agers of oil, mostly olive, but also seed oils and pomace oil. Members range from whole­salers to such well-known brands as Colavita and Monini, and account for the sale of 90 per­cent of Italy’s olive oil.
Extra vir­gin olive oil, what ASSITOL terms con­ven­tional” extra vir­gin olive oil, is by far the largest cat­e­gory pack­aged by mem­bers. They pack­age Italian, as well as EU and non-EU olive oils. Also pack­aged are the much smaller cat­e­gories of geo­graphic indi­cated DOP and IGP oils, 1OO per­cent Made in Italy, and organic. These niche (and more costly) prod­ucts add up to about 6 per­cent of the entire extra vir­gin cat­e­gory. Their sales fig­ures were, by in large, also pos­i­tive. The DOP and IGP oils had a bet­ter than 50 per­cent increase in the domes­tic mar­ket in November and December, opposed to 2009. The excep­tion came with 1OO per­cent Italian extra vir­gin olive oil, which had a 4 per­cent drop domes­ti­cally, though a 6.5 per­cent increase in the export market.

Pomace oil (an oil which is extracted through an indus­trial process involv­ing sol­vents, and sim­i­lar to that used in mak­ing seed oils) also gained with a 12.8 per­cent increase. Primarily bak­eries, at least within Italy, use this oil. Pomace oil is also being stud­ied for use in elec­tric­ity cre­ation, the sub­ject of a con­fer­ence attended by olive oil pro­duc­ers in November 2010.

Competition among olive oil pro­duc­ing coun­tries is stiff, and Spain is con­sid­ered Italy’s most aggres­sive com­peti­tor. After Spain, Italy pro­duces the most olive oil. While Italy’s domes­tic num­bers increased by 31 per­cent, Spain’s domes­tic num­bers fell by 5 per­cent (ASSITOL com­pared the last 4 years) for the November — December 2010 period. ASSITOL cred­its the Italian gains to agility and smart cost-cut­ting measures.

ASSITOL was also in the news recently because of their January 27th state­ment about the new EU reg­u­la­tions regard­ing test­ing for alkyl esters. An ele­vated level of alkyl esters gen­er­ally points to an olive oil pro­duced from poor qual­ity olives, and one not wor­thy of the extra vir­gin des­ig­na­tion. The EU has passed a law set­ting a limit for alkyl esters, some­thing ASSITOL strongly favors.

The fol­low­ing fig­ures pub­lished by Coldiretti (a large agri­cul­tural inter­est group and lobby) pro­vide a snap­shot of Italy’s extra vir­gin olive oil sector:

Number of olive trees: 250,000,000
2010 – 2011 pro­duc­tion: 550,000 tons
Market rank: Second, after Spain
Per capita con­sump­tion: 13 — 14 kg/year
Number of DOP/IGP oils: 40
Annual sales in euros: 2 billion
Work days: 50,000,000

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