Italy has become the leading destination for Tunisian organic olive oil exports, according to the National Observatory of Agriculture (Onagri).
The volume of Tunisia’s organic olive oil exports reached 41,300 tons at the end of May 2023, worth about 719.8 million dinars (€215 million). Organic production in 2021 exceeded 105,000 tons, representing 44 percent of the country’s production.
Italy was the destination for the majority of organic olive oil exports (52.5 percent), followed by Spain (36.3 percent) and France (7.9 percent).See Also:Tunisia Plans to Expand Olive Oil Exports to South Korea
From the beginning of the 2022/23 crop year, total olive oil exports from Tunisia increased by 36.9 percent, year-on-year, to around 2.1 billion dinars (€620 million). Extra virgin olive oil represented 89 percent of the total volume exported.
Demand for organic olive oil has increased globally. The market is expected to grow to $2.2 billion by 2031, with an annual growth of nearly 9 percent.
Although Italy is the second-largest olive oil exporter in the world, to meet its contract requirements and domestic demand, many large bottlers buy olive oil from Tunisia, whose organic exports constitute a significant portion of its production.
According to data from the Italian Institute of Services for the Agricultural and Food Market (Ismea), Italy imported 128,658 tons of virgin and extra virgin olive oil between January and April 2023, the last month for which data are available. Of that total, Ismea data show that 10,078 tons came from Tunisia.
“The long-term market vision foresees Tunisia playing an increasingly important role in bottled, value-added and organic extra virgin olive oil on the international market,” said Lisa Paglietti, an economist at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.
A 2016 agreement forgives the first 56,700 tons of olive oil exported from Tunisia to the E.U. from the usual tariff of €124.50 per 100 kilograms.
As a result, big olive oil blending companies from Spain, Italy, France, Belgium and Portugal prefer Tunisian imports over other major non-European producers.
According to the latest data, Europe imported 77 percent of Tunisia’s olive oil, followed by North America (16 percent) and Africa (5 percent) in 2022.
While Tunisia has traditionally been known as a bulk olive oil exporter, with European companies blending and packaging the olive oil to re-export, officials in the country are trying to change this.
Chihab Ben Slama, the president of the Tunisian Chamber of Olive Oil Exporters, said the country aims to reach 70,000 metric tons of individually packaged olive oil exports by 2025.