`Rising Olive Oil Prices, Exports Help Sustain Tunisian Trade Balance - Olive Oil Times

Rising Olive Oil Prices, Exports Help Sustain Tunisian Trade Balance

By Paolo DeAndreis
Dec. 5, 2022 15:06 UTC

Rising olive oil prices on the inter­na­tional mar­kets are boost­ing export rev­enues in Tunisia, accord­ing to the lat­est data pub­lished by the National Observatory of Agriculture (Onagri).

Onagri said exports by value increased by 39 per­cent from November 2021 to October 2022 com­pared to the same period one year before. As a result, the total olive oil export turnover reached 1.83 bil­lion Tunisian dinars (€544 mil­lion).

The obser­va­tory added that a 33-per­cent increase in olive oil prices over the past 12 months coin­cided with a 4.6‑percent increase in exports by vol­ume. Tunisia exported 167,200 tons in the 2021/22 crop year, up from 159,800 tons in 2020/21.

See Also:Low Availability and Rising Prices Spark Concerns of Olive Oil Fraud in Morrocco

Onagri cred­ited the sig­nif­i­cant increases in olive oil exports with improv­ing the coun­try’s food trade bal­ance. It said 40 per­cent of all Tunisian agri­cul­tural exports come from olive oil.

Dates are the sec­ond most exported prod­uct, with a 12 per­cent share of over­all exports. Agricultural and food exports rep­re­sent nearly 10 per­cent of Tunisian exports by value.

The coun­try’s food trade bal­ance deficit sub­stan­tially increased at the end of October 2022 com­pared to the pre­vi­ous year, ris­ing from 1.70 bil­lion Tunisian dinars (€505 mil­lion) to 2.80 bil­lion dinars (€833 mil­lion).

Food prod­uct exports by value rose 31 per­cent, with imports increas­ing by 42 per­cent. Onagri attrib­uted increas­ing food prices to the Russian inva­sion of Ukraine.

According to a recent study pub­lished by New Medit, an eco­nom­ics jour­nal, the olive oil sec­tor accounted for 8 per­cent of total Tunisian agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion from 2016 to 2020, with the North African coun­try export­ing nearly 90 per­cent of the olive oil pro­duced in that period.

The study fur­ther found that while Tunisia was respon­si­ble for roughly 10 per­cent of global olive oil pro­duc­tion over that period, it con­tributed to 20 per­cent of exports.

The largest des­ti­na­tion for Tunisian olive oil ship­ments is the European Union due to the strong demand from the bloc’s inter­nal mar­ket and the agree­ment that allows Tunisian exporters to ship up to 56,700 tons of duty-free olive oil to the E.U. annu­ally.

However, the study found that con­sumer aware­ness of Tunisian olive oil in the E.U. remains very low. The researchers attrib­uted this to the fact that most Tunisian olive oil exports to Europe are in bulk before being blended with other olive oil.

Once bot­tled, the labels do not indi­cate that any of the olive oil comes from Tunisia, only stat­ing that some was pro­duced out­side of the European Union.”

Due to local invest­ments and inter­na­tional part­ner­ships, Tunisian olive oil pro­duc­tion has grown steadily in the past decades. However, pro­duc­tion is expected to slip to 200,000 tons in the cur­rent crop year, a 15 per­cent decrease com­pared to last year due to the ongo­ing drought.

The researchers behind the New Medit study said they believe the most sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenge fac­ing Tunisian olive oil pro­duc­ers comes from low lev­els of domes­tic con­sump­tion in the coun­try, esti­mated at 3.8 kilo­grams per capita. By con­trast, Spain’s per capita olive oil con­sump­tion is closer to 11.7 kilo­grams.

This work has led to the con­clu­sion that, in Tunisia, obtain­ing sus­tained pro­duc­tion and qual­ity is the key fac­tor to increas­ing the mar­ket share of Tunisia in new mar­kets,” the researchers wrote.

To reduce the effect of alter­na­tion on pro­duc­tion and to bring Tunisia’s pro­duc­tion level closer to that of the European Union, cul­ti­va­tion activ­i­ties such as irri­ga­tion and mech­a­niza­tion should be improved,” they added.

The authors con­cluded that bet­ter mar­ket­ing prac­tices, reduced vol­umes of bulk ship­ments in favor of indi­vid­u­ally bot­tled and branded exports and a more con­sid­er­able empha­sis on organic olive oil pro­duc­tion would also add value to the sec­tor.


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