`Trends in Organic Olive Oil Trade Now Being Tracked

N. America

Trends in Organic Olive Oil Trade Now Being Tracked

Jan. 21, 2014
By Julie Butler

Recent News

Organic olive oil accounted for at least a tenth of all vir­gin olive oil imported by the United States in 2012/13, accord­ing to the Inter­na­tional Olive Coun­cil (IOC).

Buy­ers have gone from think­ing about it to doing some mar­ket tests.- Liz Tagami, Tagami Inter­na­tional

The IOC is now track­ing the organic cat­e­gory thanks to new inter­na­tional cus­toms codes which made this fea­si­ble as of last year, the IOC said.

From Octo­ber 2012 to Sep­tem­ber 2013, a total of 298,828 tons of olive oil was imported by the US, the world’s biggest importer of olive oil and table olives. About 64 per­cent of this was vir­gin and extra vir­gin olive oil — about 191,000 tons in total — of which a tenth was organic, thus just over 19,000 tons.

How­ever the IOC said its US trade data from the U.S. Cen­sus Bureau pro­vided details on organic olive oil only from Jan­u­ary last year, thus there are no fig­ures for this cat­e­gory for Octo­ber to Decem­ber 2012.

Oppor­tu­nity in organic food pro­duc­tion


US-based inter­na­tional spe­cialty food bro­ker and con­sul­tant Liz Tagami said her com­pany, Tagami Inter­na­tional, is receiv­ing more calls for organic olive oil than five years ago.

Buy­ers have gone from think­ing about it to doing some mar­ket tests,” she said.

If you take Tagami Inter­na­tional as one data point, it appears inter­est is grow­ing as the num­ber of inquiries I receive ask­ing about the dif­fer­ence between organic and con­ven­tional has increased.

Peo­ple don’t real­ize how few chem­i­cal inputs there are in mod­ern olive cul­ti­va­tion — it is not like corn, wheat or soy. That dif­fer­ence, along with the higher price of organic has been a gov­er­nor on growth. That said, the use of organic olive oil in food pro­duc­tion where the entire for­mu­la­tion is organic is an oppor­tu­nity,” she said.

Cata­lan exporter finds Cana­dian mar­ket eas­ier

In Lleida, Cat­alo­nia, Emma Rovira, sales direc­tor of Molí dels Torms, said all the company’s olive oil is cer­ti­fied organic extra vir­gin. Sold under the Oli­catessen label, she said very lit­tle was exported to the US because it is a dif­fi­cult mar­ket with intense pres­sure on prices and the need for high vol­umes. She said the company’s biggest export mar­ket is Canada, fol­lowed by Japan, where they never dis­pute the ask­ing price but hag­gle over fac­tors such as qual­ity, taste and label­ing”, Bel­gium, Ger­many and Hol­land.

Also in Lleida, Ramon Bar­rull Becerra, pres­i­dent of the small La Granadella Coop­er­a­tive, said it is in only its sec­ond year of pro­duc­ing cer­ti­fied organic extra vir­gin olive oil, which will this year total only about 25 tons, just 5 per­cent of its total pro­duc­tion under the Degus­tus label. After sell­ing all the oil from the first year of organic pro­duc­tion, the coop­er­a­tive has quadru­pled its organic out­put this year and sells most of it to shops spe­cial­iz­ing in organic goods.

Bar­rull said the cost of organic pro­duc­tion is about a quar­ter higher than non-organic. One rea­son is the fer­til­izer costs more but deliv­ers lower pro­duc­tion capac­ity, he said.

Demand and risk in organic goods

A report last year by Spain’s Insti­tute of For­eign Trade (ICEX) said olive oil leads sales of organic oils in Ger­many, where the grow­ing demand for organic pro­duce is one of most strik­ing ten­den­cies in the Ger­man food mar­ket. Mean­while, accord­ing to a recent report on fraud in the food chain by the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment Com­mit­tee on the Envi­ron­ment, Pub­lic Health and Food Safety, olive oil, fish and organic foods are the prod­ucts most prone to such fraud.

Cur­rent cus­toms codes for organic olive oil

As of July 2013, the relevent organic codes in the har­mo­nized tar­iff sched­ule are:

- 1509102030: organic extra vir­gin olive oil in con­tainer under 18 kg

- 1509104030: organic extra vir­gin olive oil in con­tainer of 18 kg or more

- 1509102040: organic vir­gin olive oil in con­tainer under 18 kg

- 1509104040: organic vir­gin olive oil in con­tainer of 18 kg or more.

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