`Spain Dominates Booming American Market for Bulk Olive Oil - Olive Oil Times

Spain Dominates Booming American Market for Bulk Olive Oil

Feb. 10, 2015
Olive Oil Times Staff

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Slowly but surely over the past twenty years, olive oil in bulk con­tain­ers is replac­ing imports of oil already pack­aged in bot­tles and tins, accord­ing to fig­ures released today by the International Olive Council (IOC).

While no one exports more pack­aged olive oil to the U.S. than Italy, it is Spain, the world’s lead­ing olive oil pro­ducer, that dom­i­nates the grow­ing demand for bulk ship­ments with 28 per­cent of the mar­ket, fol­lowed dis­tantly by Tunisia with 4 per­cent, Argentina and Italy, which sup­plies just 2 per­cent of bulk imports.

Bulk con­tain­ers were defined by the IOC as those exceed­ing 18 kg (39.68 Lbs).

Over the past twenty years imports of bulk olive oil have increased at an aver­age annual rate of 36.5 per­cent to account for most of the growth in imports. Packaged prod­uct ship­ments have increased at a mod­est 3.5 per­cent rate.

In the past five years, bulk imports have surged 43 per­cent, while pack­aged imports have seen only a one per­cent rise.

More imported olive oil is being bot­tled in the U.S. than ever before by importers and sup­pli­ers of pri­vate labeled prod­ucts to mass mar­ket retail­ers and food­ser­vice chan­nels. Also con­tribut­ing to higher bulk imports over the years is the advent of the use of olive oil in other prod­ucts like snack foods and cos­met­ics.

Eryn Balch, exec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of the North American Olive Oil Association, the trade group that rep­re­sents the largest American bot­tlers, called the increase in bulk olive oil ship­ments a log­i­cal result” of the growth of olive oil usage in North America over the past twenty years. For chan­nels with high-vol­ume sales, bulk ship­ments not only reduce freight costs, but also allow sup­pli­ers to be more flex­i­ble with pack­ag­ing for­mats and prod­uct offer­ings to meet on-demand buyer require­ments,” said Balch. As cat­e­gory growth con­tin­ues, we expect this trend will con­tinue as well.”

As far as pack­aged olive oil goes, Italy has been los­ing some ground to Spain over the most recent five years, the IOC noted. Italian olive oil imports to the U.S. have slipped by 6 per­cent, while Spanish pack­aged prod­ucts imports have gained 30 per­cent over the term to sup­ply 12 per­cent of the mar­ket. Still, Spain has a long way to catch Italy’s 42 per­cent share of prepack­aged olive oil.

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