Council Calls Canada, Australia Olive Oil Import Trends 'Worrying'

May. 11, 2012
By Julie Butler

Recent News

A decline in olive and pomace oil imports into Canada and Australia is “wor­ry­ing,” the International Olive Council declares in its April newslet­ter (PDF).

It reports that October-February imports into Canada and Australia were 20 and 5 per­cent lower respec­tively than the same period last season. “This is par­tic­u­larly wor­ry­ing” it says “because this down­ward move­ment has been hap­pen­ing for three months in a row.”

While imports into the United States have stayed steady, into China they’ve climbed 25 per­cent, Russia 16 per­cent, Japan 13 per­cent and Brazil 7 per­cent, rel­a­tive to 2010/11. There’s been a drop of 3 per­cent in intra-EU imports and of 18 per­cent in extra-EU imports but the latter “comes as no sur­prise given the volume of EU pro­duc­tion this season” the IOC says.

Canada and Australia

The October – February fig­ures show that imports into Canada have been down every month — except November — com­pared to the same time a year before. Canada’s February ton­nage of 2263 was a sig­nif­i­cant decrease on 3210 the year before.

Meanwhile, after a slightly below-par November, Australia took a dra­matic dive in December, to just 1580 tons — less than half of its 3505 total for December 2010. But the IOC data shows that since then it has been above its 2010/11 levels, with 3060 and 2289 tons respec­tively this January and February, com­pared to 1887 and 1723 in 2011.


Olive Oil Imports (Source: International Olive Council)

Ongoing Farm Gate Gloom

Compared with the same period a year before, EVOO pro­ducer prices are down 38 per­cent in Italy (€2.40/kg), 12 per­cent in Spain (€1.77/kg) and 5 per­cent in Greece (€1.84/kg).


“In recent months prices have flat­lined in Greece and remained vir­tu­ally steady in Spain while perk­ing slightly in Italy. Even so, they are at their lowest levels since October 2009 in all three coun­tries” the IOC said.

Prices for refined olive oil are at their lowest for the last three crop years, having fallen 6 per­cent in Italy, to €1.80, and 4 per­cent in Spain, to €1.69/kg, over the last 12 months. No fig­ures were avail­able for Greece. “The gap between the price of refined olive oil and extra virgin olive oil is cur­rently around €0.08/kg in Spain and €0.60/kg in Italy.”


Table Olives

Table olive imports were up 20 per­cent into Brazil and 3 per­cent into Canada but down 11 per­cent into the U.S., 6 per­cent into Australia and 4 per­cent into Russia. Intra-EU imports rose and the extra-EU ones fell.


The IOC newslet­ter focused on China, where olive oil and olive pomace oil imports have leaped up 375 per­cent since 2006/07 to reach 33,227 tons last year, 82 per­cent of which was virgin olive oil and Spain the key sup­plier.

China Olive Oil Imports (Source: International Olive Council)

“According to busi­ness sources, mar­keters first man­aged to get a foot into the Chinese market by per­suad­ing com­pa­nies to include olive oil in the cor­po­rate gift ham­pers that are cus­tom­ary in China. As a result of this first encounter with olive oil, retail super­mar­ket sales started to expand as cus­tomers bought olive oil them­selves.”

International Olive Council April 2012 Newsletter (PDF)