Spanish olive oil exports to the United States have overtaken Italian exports, according to data from U.S. customs shared with the Interprofessional Association of Spanish Olive Oil.
In the first quarter of 2023, Spain exported 166,859 tons of virgin and extra virgin olive oil to the United States, compared to 123,960 tons of exports from Italy, making Spain the country’s largest supplier.
The moratorium imposed on tariffs on Spanish olive oil has been decisive for us to regain leadership in such an important market for us.
The Institute of Foreign Trade of Spain (ICEX) in New York estimated that Spanish olive oil now accounts for about 41 percent of U.S. olive oil imports by volume and 38 percent by value.
The latest customs data confirms the trend of increasing Spanish olive oil exports to the world’s third-largest olive oil consumer by volume and value.See Also:Olive Oil Trade News
Data from Spain’s Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism showed that Spain exported 155,159 tons of olive oil in all of its fractions to the United States in 2022, slightly exceeding the 150,245 tons in 2021 and 11 percent above the five-year average.
However, olive oil prices at origin have increased steeply and steadily since July 2022, breaking records throughout 2023 and showing no signs of abating. As a result, Spanish exports by value to the U.S. increased at a far more accelerated rate.
Data from the trade ministry show that Spain exported €641,569,820 worth of olive oil in all of its fractions to the U.S. in 2022, significantly above the €486,511,210 of 2021 and 47 percent above the five-year average.
Trade officials pointed to the suspension of a 25-percent tariff on some Spanish olive oil and table olive exports, imposed by the U.S. in 2019 during a trade dispute between the U.S. and European Union surrounding subsidies for their respective airplane manufacturers.
“The moratorium imposed on tariffs on Spanish olive oil has been decisive for us to regain leadership in such an important market for us,” Rafael Pico Lapuente, the executive director of the Spanish Association of Olive Oil Exporters, Industry and Commerce (Asoliva), told El País.
Jeffrey Shaw, from ICEX New York, indicated that Spanish olive oil exports to the U.S. have increased due to several factors, pre-dating the tariffs and directly stemming from them.
He told the EFE that Spanish producers have long understood the importance of supplying bulk olive oil to private labelers, which he estimated account for roughly one-third of U.S. olive oil sales.
Additionally, the 25 percent tariff only applied to individually packaged Spanish exports and not exports in bulk. As a result, this forced some of Spain’s largest producers and retailers to open U.S. bottling and distribution facilities to package increased exports in bulk under new U.S.-based brands, which increased consumer exposure to Spanish oils.
Still, Shaw said there is plenty of room for expansion in the U.S. market, pointing to per capita olive oil consumption of just 2 liters per annum in the U.S., compared to 12 liters per annum in Spain.