Morocco Bans Olive Oil Exports in Bid to Control Rising Prices

Officials say the ban will stem olive oil price increases in the country. It won't help elsewhere.
Fez, Morocco
By Daniel Dawson
Oct. 11, 2023 13:47 UTC

Morocco’s agri­cul­ture min­istry has approved a decree to ban olive oil exports to stem sky­rock­et­ing prices on the domes­tic mar­ket.

The announce­ment makes Morocco the third major olive oil-pro­duc­ing coun­try to imple­ment an export ban after offi­cials in Turkey took sim­i­lar mea­sures in August, fol­lowed by Syria in September.

Officials in both coun­tries also cited ris­ing olive oil prices in their deci­sions to imple­ment the export pro­hi­bi­tions.

See Also:Why Olive Oil Prices Are Higher in Spain

Currently, one liter of olive oil in Morocco retails from any­where between 120 and 150 dirhams (€11 to €14), roughly 64 per­cent higher than the aver­age price of August 2022. Morocco’s aver­age monthly salary after tax is about 3,900 dirhams (€360).

Rachid Benali, pres­i­dent of the Moroccan Olive Interprofessional, said the mea­sure aims to pro­tect the pur­chas­ing power of Moroccan con­sumers.”

Despite a poor har­vest last year, which the gov­ern­ment blamed on drought, Morocco remains Africa’s sec­ond-largest olive oil pro­ducer and exporter behind Tunisia.

According to data from the International Olive Council, the coun­try pro­duced 156,000 tons of olive oil and exported 28,000 tons in the 2022/23 crop year.

Officials in the agri­cul­ture min­istry attrib­uted the ris­ing olive oil prices in the coun­try to short­ages across the Mediterranean fol­low­ing the low­est level of global pro­duc­tion since the 2016/17 crop year.

While farm­ers and offi­cials in Morocco are hope­ful that the com­ing har­vest will exceed the pre­vi­ous one, global prices are expected to con­tinue ris­ing, with another very poor har­vest antic­i­pated in Spain, the world’s largest pro­ducer.

Even as offi­cials seek to lower prices at home, Morocco’s deci­sion to ban exports could con­tribute to fur­ther price increases in Europe.

According to data from Spain’s Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism, roughly 3 per­cent of the coun­try’s total olive oil imports came from Morocco in the first seven months of 2023. Meanwhile, 11 per­cent came from Turkey and 2.5 per­cent from Syria in the same period.

Making up 16.5 per­cent of Spanish imports in the first seven months of 2023, nearly 18 mil­lion kilo­grams of olive oil, some offi­cials warn that the com­bined bans will fur­ther limit sup­ply and keep upward pres­sure on near-record prices.

If a sup­plier stops sup­ply­ing peo­ple who do not have as much, let’s say that the sit­u­a­tion that exists at the moment wors­ens, and there is a lower avail­abil­ity of oil in the mar­ket, con­se­quently,” Rafael Pico Lapuente, the exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Spanish Association of Olive Oil Exporters, Industry and Commerce (Asoliva), told The Objective.


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