`Growing Thirst for Olive Oil in Japan and India


Growing Thirst for Olive Oil in Japan and India

May. 13, 2013
Julie Butler

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The pace with which olive oil demand is ris­ing in Japan is out­strip­ping even that of China, accord­ing to the April newslet­ter of the Inter­na­tional Olive coun­cil (IOC).

The IOC data shows that five months into the cur­rent olive oil sea­son, imports are up a quar­ter on the same period in 2011/12 in Japan, 19 per­cent in China, 16 per­cent in Brazil, 12 per­cent in Rus­sia, and 4 per­cent in both Aus­tralia and in the United States — by far the biggest mar­ket out­side the Euro­pean Union.

And after falling by 1 per­cent over­all last sea­son, demand in Canada has shot back with growth of 21 per­cent for Octo­ber 2012 – Feb­ru­ary 2013, com­pared to the same period a year ago.

Explo­sive growth in India


But it is the nascent olive oil mar­ket of India that has the most dizzy­ing data. Imports last sea­son exploded 74 per­cent on 2010/11, though to a total of just 9,400 tons. In com­par­i­son, imports grew 23 per­cent in Japan over the same period, to a total of 45,571 tons.

And for the first five months of this sea­son, Indian imports are up 48 per­cent, though again with rel­a­tively small vol­umes.

India and Japan: dif­fer­ent tastes

In spe­cial sec­tions this month on trade with India and Japan, the IOC included fig­ures show­ing that the Japan­ese mar­ket has evolved with a pref­er­ence for vir­gin olive oil and the Indian mar­ket so far favors the grade called olive oil.

In 2011/12, two thirds of Japan’s imports were vir­gin, 28 per­cent olive oil, and 5 per­cent olive pomace oil, while nearly three quar­ters of India’s were clas­si­fied as olive oil grade, 18 per­cent vir­gin and 9 per­cent pomace.

The IOC said it was worth recall­ing it began activ­i­ties to pro­mote olive oil con­sump­tion in Japan in 1991 and import trends sug­gested these had a very sig­nif­i­cant impact.”

Its fig­ures show both Japan and India get most of their olive oil from Spain and Italy. Among the sources of India’s imports, though with tiny vol­umes, China and non-pro­ducer coun­tries includ­ing Swe­den, Japan and Ger­many appear.

Grower prices in Europe

Ex-mill prices for extra vir­gin olive oil lie at €2.84/kg in Spain, rep­re­sent­ing 60 per­cent growth on a year ago and a return to the level of Sep­tem­ber 2006.

In Italy, they rose from €2.61/kg in the last week of Novem­ber to €3.22/kg in the last week of April, mak­ing for 34 per­cent growth on the same period a sea­son ago.

In Greece, prices were up 34 per­cent hav­ing moved from €2.04/kg to €2.46/kg between the last weeks of Decem­ber and April. How­ever, in recent weeks prices in Italy and Greece have flat­tened, the IOC said.

The dif­fer­ence between the price of refined olive oil and extra vir­gin olive oil is now about €0.32/kg in Spain and €0.40/kg in Italy.

Table olives

Table olive imports for Octo­ber – Feb­ru­ary are up 18 per­cent in Canada, 14 per­cent in Aus­tralia, 10 per­cent each in Brazil and Rus­sia, and unchanged in the U.S., com­pared to the same period last sea­son.

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