Spanish Households Purchase More Sunflower Oil Than Olive Oil for the First Time

Falling olive oil sales are linked to reduced production and elevated prices, whereas sunflower oil has become more affordable during the same timeframe.
By Daniel Dawson
Jun. 25, 2024 12:24 UTC

Sunflower oil sales have over­taken olive oil sales in Spain for the first time.

According to data from the National Association of Edible Oil Bottlers and Refiners Industrialists (Anierac), olive oil sales dropped from 134,000 tons in October 2023 to 110,477 tons in March 2024, a 17.5 per­cent decrease.

Conversely, sun­flower oil sales increased by 24.5 per­cent over the same period, ris­ing from 127,400 tons to 158,574 tons.

See Also:Spanish Olive Oil Production Continues to Beat Expectations

Officials in Spain point to below-aver­age pro­duc­tion across much of the olive oil world for a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive year, com­bined with his­tor­i­cally high olive oil prices, as the main rea­sons for falling con­sump­tion.

Data from NielsenIQ, a mar­ket research firm, show that olive oil prices at retail rose by 61 per­cent from May 2023 to May 2024, reach­ing an aver­age of €7.41 per liter. Prices for vir­gin and extra vir­gin olive oil rose sim­i­larly, reach­ing €8.92 and €7.77 per liter, respec­tively.

At the same time, sun­flower oil prices at retail have fallen by 35 per­cent over the same period, drop­ping to €1.56 per liter.

In its 2023 home con­sump­tion report, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food said Spanish house­holds reduced edi­ble oil con­sump­tion by 3.3 per­cent in 2023.

Ministry data show that olive oil con­sump­tion fell by nearly 15 per­cent in 2023, while sun­flower oil con­sump­tion increased. Demand for olive pomace oil, the price of which rose by a far more mod­est 23 per­cent, more than dou­bled.

Despite olive oil los­ing ground to other edi­ble oils, agri­cul­ture min­is­ter Luis Planas said the Mediterranean diet con­tin­ues to be the basis of the Spanish diet.

In Spain, the world’s lead­ing pro­ducer of olive oil, per capita con­sump­tion of total olive oil exceeds six liters per per­son, while in the world, this con­sump­tion is barely 0.41 liters,” the min­istry wrote in a press release.

The report also found that Spaniards con­tin­ued to pre­pare dishes with meat, veg­eta­bles, eggs and fish at home, with increased con­sump­tion of legumes.

Fresh foods, espe­cially dairy prod­ucts, fruits and veg­eta­bles, account for 37.6 per­cent by vol­ume of house­hold diets,” the min­istry wrote. Spaniards pri­or­i­tize health, fla­vor and sim­plic­ity in prepa­ra­tions, as demon­strated by their pref­er­ence for green sal­ads and grilled prepa­ra­tions.”

Overall, olive oil sec­tor observers and par­tic­i­pants expect this trend to reverse as the 2024/25 crop year begins in October.

Above-aver­age rain­fall across the country’s most pro­lific olive oil-pro­duc­ing regions com­bined with the absence of tem­per­a­ture shocks dur­ing the blos­som­ing has some pro­duc­ers cau­tiously opti­mistic that pro­duc­tion will return to nor­mal.

Spain pro­duced an aver­age of 1.4 mil­lion tons annu­ally in the five years before the his­tor­i­cally low har­vest of 2022/23. If pro­duc­tion returns to nor­mal, prices would be expected to sta­bi­lize between €3 and €4 per kilo­gram at ori­gin, about half of what they are now.

As a result, olive oil sec­tor observers believe that demand will recover quickly since many con­sumers have changed their olive oil con­sump­tion habits — such as buy­ing smaller for­mats and lower-qual­ity grades — with­out aban­don­ing the cat­e­gory alto­gether.

There is insuf­fi­cient olive oil avail­able to cover demand,” Juan Vilar, a strate­gic con­sul­tant, told Olive Oil Times in a January inter­view. But the demand has not fallen much… People don’t want to leave the olive oil cat­e­gory.”


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