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Olive Oil Imports Reach Record in Brazil

Only the United States and Italy import more olive as consumption continues to grow in Latin America’s most populous country.

Sao Paolo, Brazil
Nov. 9, 2018
By Daniel Dawson
Sao Paolo, Brazil

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Brazil­ian olive oil imports have been steadily increas­ing over the past sev­eral years. Over the course of the 2017/18 crop year, they rose by 28 per­cent to a record high of 76,816 tons.

Although we’re far from our best days, there are slight signs of recov­ery and this could account for this sur­pris­ing num­ber.- San­dro Mar­ques

Only the United States and Italy import more olive oil than Brazil does and its con­sump­tion is con­tin­u­ing to grow in Latin America’s most pop­u­lous coun­try. Domes­tic pro­duc­tion con­tin­ues to slowly increase but accounts for less than one per­cent of what Brazil­ians con­sume.

San­dro Mar­ques, author of the Guide to Brazil­ian Olive Oil and edi­tor of Um Litro de Azeite, told Olive Oil Times his hypoth­e­sis to explain why imports keep keep­ing going up.

We’ve always been a great oil importer and the impact of the eco­nomic cri­sis and gen­eral pes­simistic out­look of the last years affected the imported vol­ume,” he said. Although we’re far from our best days, there are slight signs of recov­ery and this could account for this sur­pris­ing num­ber.”

See more: The Best Olive Oils from Brazil

Or not so sur­pris­ing,” he added. Since we’re just going back to a pre­vi­ous pat­tern.”

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Brazil­ian olive oil imports had pre­vi­ously reached 73,000 tons back in 2012/13 but fell by one-third in 2015 after a dev­as­tat­ing reces­sion shrank the Brazil­ian econ­omy and greatly deval­ued its cur­rency.

Imported oils fare quite well in Brazil, accord­ing to Mar­ques, because they are gen­er­ally much cheaper than domes­tic oils, for which there is not much demand.


Brazil has a repressed demand for good qual­ity prod­ucts and when­ever the econ­omy is good peo­ple will buy more of those, regard­less of the ori­gin,” he said. How­ever, not all con­sumers that buy imported olive oil can afford Brazil­ian olive oil, which is usu­ally at least 50 per­cent more expen­sive than a typ­i­cal imported oil.”

Accord­ing to the Inter­na­tional Olive Coun­cil, 82 per­cent of imported olive oil in Brazil comes from Europe. Por­tu­gal is the lead­ing exporter, respon­si­ble for 59 per­cent of Brazil­ian imports. Spain (16 per­cent), Italy (six per­cent) and Greece (one per­cent) are the other major Euro­pean exporters.

The remain­ing 18 per­cent of Brazil­ian imports come mostly from Argentina and Chile, at 10 per­cent and seven per­cent, respec­tively.

Mar­ques does not view this increase in olive oil imports nec­es­sar­ily as a bad thing for Brazil­ian pro­duc­ers. He said they have carved out a niche in the mar­ket that is slowly increas­ing its con­sumer base as more afflu­ent Brazil­ians develop an appetite for higher qual­ity oils.

What you could say is that the demand for top qual­ity oil is ris­ing as more afflu­ent Brazil­ians get to know our own oils,” he said. The niche served by domes­tic pro­duc­ers has some over­lap with gen­eral olive oil con­sump­tion, but still a great part of it are savvy con­sumers who are look­ing for and can afford bet­ter qual­ity prod­ucts.”

As Brazil’s econ­omy slowly begins to recover, Mar­ques does not see much of a prob­lem with imports con­tin­u­ing to increase. Brazil­ian pro­duc­tion is unlikely to ever be able to meet demand and Mar­ques believes any inter­ac­tions with olive oil is likely to help Brazil­ian pro­duc­ers in the long run.

But on the whole, if the mar­ket grows and pro­duc­ers do a good job of edu­cat­ing con­sumers, I don’t think the impact [of increas­ing imports] will be neg­a­tive,” he said. Count­less times I have given oil sam­ples to peo­ple to try and com­pare, and they are always amazed at how much bet­ter a Brazil­ian olive oil tastes when com­pared to a reg­u­lar imported oil from major brands.”


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