`Spain Starts Season with Low Stocks, Concerns About Forecasts

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Spain Starts Season with Low Stocks, Concerns About Forecasts

Oct. 28, 2013
Julie Butler

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Spain’s olive oil bot­tlers are at their low­est stock lev­els in about four years, accord­ing to the lat­est fig­ures from the Span­ish Olive Oil Agency (AAO).

Fig­ures released today to Sep­tem­ber 30 — the end of the offi­cial olive sea­son — show that olive oil stocks held by pack­agers had dwin­dled to just under 103,000 tons, the least since Decem­ber 2009, when total world con­sump­tion was about 300,000 tons lower.

And the sit­u­a­tion with Span­ish olive oil mills is sim­i­lar, with just under 186,000 tons on hand at the end of Sep­tem­ber, the low­est since Novem­ber 2010.

Over­all, the coun­try started the new sea­son this month with a car­ry­over of 302,500 tons of olive oil, com­ing out of a sea­son that deliv­ered just 616,300 tons — down 62 per­cent on the pre­vi­ous, record sea­son — and despite much higher than aver­age imports, accord­ing to the AAO data.

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Olive oil imports into Spain — by far the world’s biggest pro­ducer — totaled nearly 118,000 tons in 2012/13, nearly dou­ble of that the pre­vi­ous sea­son and nearly triple that of 2010/11, though the fig­ures for last month are still pro­vi­sional.

Spain’s olive oil sales have also declined in terms of both exports and domes­tic con­sump­tion, down 23 and 7 per­cent respec­tively on the aver­age for the four pre­vi­ous sea­sons.

Cau­tion urged over har­vest esti­mates

Mean­while, con­cerns have been raised that the Andalu­sian government’s fore­cast this week for the new olive oil sea­son was overly opti­mistic and will cause prices to fall fur­ther.

Elena Víb­o­ras, Min­is­ter of Agri­cul­ture, Fish­eries and Rural Devel­op­ment in the Andalu­sian regional gov­ern­ment, released the offi­cial esti­mates on Mon­day, that Andalu­sia alone would make more than 1.3 mil­lion tons of olive oil in 2013/14 and Spain about 1.6 mil­lion tons.

But Infao­liva, the Span­ish Fed­er­a­tion of Olive Oil Indus­tries and Pro­duc­ers, said these fig­ures did not take into account the need for rain, which if not received could result in pro­duc­tion at least 10 per­cent lower than expected.

In such a sen­si­tive mar­ket, the fore­cast could see prices kept low until at least next June, Infao­liva said, because olive oil traders will be able to buy cheap on the pre­text that sup­ply will cover demand.

And FAECA, the Andalu­sian Fed­er­a­tion of Agri­cul­tural Coop­er­a­tive Enter­prises, said while it did not doubt the pro­fes­sion­al­ism of the gov­ern­ment experts behind the fore­cast, it was nev­er­the­less sur­prised” by the esti­mates and con­sid­ered them pre­ma­ture” given the enor­mous reper­cus­sions of this type of infor­ma­tion in the mar­ket.”

FAECA also said that the dry, hot start to the fall had pro­voked a delay in fruit devel­op­ment and a level of water stress that could reduce the oil yield.

And while ear­lier this month the Inter­na­tional Olive Coun­cil pro­vi­sion­ally fore­cast a world­wide total of 3 mil­lion tons of olive oil for 2013/14, the GEA West­falia Sep­a­ra­tor Group’s Inter­na­tional Cen­ter for Olive Oil Excel­lence esti­mates global out­put of just 2.76 mil­lion tons, with Spain mak­ing about half of this, or sbout 1.35 mil­lion tons.

A report it released this week also said that given global olive oil stocks were sig­nif­i­cantly” lower than at the start of least sea­son, the result­ing amount of olive oil avail­able to the mar­ket this sea­son would be down nearly 70 per­cent down on the pre­vi­ous one.



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