`Olive Oil Consumption in Italy Slides to 25-Year Low - Olive Oil Times

Olive Oil Consumption in Italy Slides to 25-Year Low

Mar. 9, 2015
Olive Oil Times Staff

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ITALY HAS LONG BEEN the top olive oil con­sumer in Europe but not any more, accord­ing to the International olive Council (IOC), who places the coun­try in a sta­tis­ti­cal tie with Spain in their lat­est report. After peak­ing in 2006, Italian con­sump­tion began a long slide to the low­est lev­els in a quar­ter cen­tury.

Europeans as whole con­sumed 400,000 tons less olive oil this year than they did in 1990 — amount­ing to a 20 per­cent decline. Fortunately for the world’s olive oil pro­duc­ers, half of that slack was taken up by the United States, where dur­ing the same period Americans put an addi­tional 200,000 tons to good use, replac­ing mar­garine for one thing.

But before accus­ing Europeans of pitch­ing to the world what they them­selves seem to be turn­ing away from, con­sider that the aver­age Italian still con­sumes more than 8.4 liters of olive oil each year — more than 10 times the typ­i­cal American. In Spain, per capita con­sump­tion is hold­ing at 9.5 liters per year, and Greeks, despite the cri­sis, still drench their foods in 14.9 liters of olive oil on aver­age, accord­ing to the IOC fig­ures.

In the U.S. aver­age con­sump­tion has dou­bled from a mere 0.4 liters to 0.8 liters in the past 25 years (mar­garine use dur­ing the same period fell the equiv­a­lent of over 3 liters per per­son). But before the IOC takes a vic­tory lap, it should con­sider that con­sump­tion has more than dou­bled for all edi­ble oils over the same period. Despite an end­less stream of data on the many health ben­e­fits of its use, olive oil seems to have barely held its own in the world’s largest mar­ket.

Meanwhile, the IOC reported, prices for Italian olive oil reached €6.03/kg, or about $5.98 per liter, at the end of February — a result of the poor har­vest sea­son that will place fur­ther pres­sure on buy­ing deci­sions at the retail shelves.


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