Spain con­tin­ues to enjoy stronger for­eign and domes­tic demand for its olive oil, with new fig­ures show­ing both are at record lev­els.

According to the lat­est data from Spain’s Information and Food Control Agency (AICA for its ini­tials in Spanish), total sales for the first quar­ter of the sea­son — more than half a mil­lion tons — and the sales last month are each all-time highs, though the fig­ures for January are still pro­vi­sional.

In that first quar­ter — October to January — Spain pro­duced 1.24 mil­lion tons of olive oil while export­ing about a third of that amount — 320,800 tons — and sell­ing nearly 180,000 tons within the coun­try. It has processed nearly 6.3 mil­lion tons of olives, with an aver­age yield of 19.7 per­cent — 1.7 points up on last sea­son but slightly lower than the pre­vi­ous one — and at the end of last month held stocks of over a mil­lion tons of olive oil.

The table olive har­vest is also going well, with pro­duc­tion to the end of January of about 563,000 tons, 15 per­cent higher than at the same time last sea­son, but sales are down by nearly a tenth.

Italy buy­ing more sup­plies from Spain

Rafael Sánchez de Puerta Díaz, chair­man of the European Commission’s Advisory Group on Olives and Derived Products, told Olive Oil Times that fac­tors in Spain’s strong sales this sea­son include that world olive oil stocks were at very low lev­els at the end of the last sea­son. Also, the har­vests this sea­son in some other exporter coun­tries, such as Greece and Tunisia, are smaller. As a result, Italy is now sourc­ing more olive oil from Spain. Sánchez also said that Spanish com­pa­nies are increas­ing their exports of bot­tled olive oil and that con­sump­tion of olive oil is ris­ing in many coun­tries, includ­ing Spain.

Prices

While a down­ward ten­dency in ex-mill prices for olive oil helped make the prod­uct more attrac­tive, Sánchez said it was not an ideal sit­u­a­tion for pro­duc­ers. “Prices are lower than they should be and there is no rea­son for them to be falling,” he said. However he pre­dicts they will now sta­bi­lize after a drop ear­lier in the week.

According to the price obser­va­tory POOLred, the aver­age ex-mill price for olive oil for the month to February 26 was €1.94/kg, com­pared to about €2.05/kg for the month to December 24.

“Both quan­tity and qual­ity of oil will be good”

The Andalusian regional government’s offi­cial fore­cast for olive oil pro­duc­tion in Spain this sea­son is 1.6 mil­lion tons, but it won’t be known until late in March if that level is reached, Sánchez said. The har­vest in Andalusia — which was fore­cast to alone pro­duce 1.3 mil­lion tons — should almost be over by now but rain has pre­vented work, caus­ing delays. The start of the har­vest was very dry, how­ever, which favored both the pace and qual­ity of oil pro­duc­tion. “There’s going to be a lot of oil, and very, very good oil,” he said.

Olive theft amounts up

The UPA farmer union said this week that the start of the ‘rebusca’ — the period in which olives which have not been har­vested by tree own­ers may be col­lected by oth­ers — has been post­poned a month, to the end of March, because the rain had delayed the har­vest.

UPA-Jaén spokesman Luis Miguel Martínez also said that accord­ing to new fig­ures from Spanish police, more than 120 thefts of olives have been reported there this sea­son, cov­er­ing a total of 245,000kg, of which 93,000kg have been recov­ered. Spanish News Today said that while the num­ber of thefts is about the same as last year, the amounts reported as stolen are higher and there is a ten­dency for small thefts not to be reported, or even noticed.



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