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Spain Sees Largest Olive Oil Consumption Increase in Nearly a Decade

Olive oil consumption in Spain rose by more than three percent, the biggest increase since 2011. Falling prices and better education about extra virgin olive oil's health benefits are attributed to the increase.

Jul. 15, 2019
By Daniel Dawson

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A new report from Spain’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries showed that house­hold con­sump­tion of olive oil increased by 3.47 per­cent in 2018, the largest increase since 2011.

Consumption of virgin and extra virgin olive oil led the way, rising by 9.2 and 7.2 per­cent, respec­tively. Consumption of non-virgin olive oil rose slightly, by only 0.2 per­cent.

Unión de Uniones attrib­utes these changes to the decline in prices… as well as to a greater knowl­edge and infor­ma­tion on the part of con­sumers of the ben­e­fits of extra virgin olive oil, which have yet to be strength­ened.- Union of Farmers’ and Ranchers’ Unions

Combined, the Ministry esti­mates that olive oil rep­re­sented 64.9 per­cent – nearly two-thirds – of all veg­etable oil con­sumed in Spain last year.

One of the rea­sons that olive oil con­sump­tion is buck­ing the pre­vi­ous down­ward trend may be the dra­matic decrease in prices that Spain has expe­ri­enced this year.

See more: Olive Oil Consumption News

At this time in 2017, olive oil was retail­ing at an aver­age of €3.77 ($4.25) per kilo­gram, accord­ing to Poolred, an orga­ni­za­tion that tracks olive oil prices. Since then, prices have fallen by more than 40 per­cent, reach­ing €2.14 ($2.42) per kilo­gram, on aver­age, at the time of writ­ing.

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Spain’s Union of Farmers’ and Ranchers’ Unions attrib­uted the increase in con­sump­tion not only to the lower prices, but also better edu­ca­tion about the health ben­e­fits of olive oil.

“Unión de Uniones attrib­utes these changes to the decline in prices… as well as to a greater knowl­edge and infor­ma­tion on the part of con­sumers of the ben­e­fits of extra virgin olive oil, which have yet to be strength­ened,” the orga­ni­za­tion said in a state­ment on its web­site.

In spite of drop­ping prices, the value of olive oil pur­chased by Spaniards slightly increased, rising by 1.4 per­cent. Perhaps reflect­ing the lower prices, the value of virgin olive oil pur­chased increased the most, rising by 3.8 per­cent, while value of extra virgin olive oil pur­chased rose by 2.5 per­cent. The value of non-virgin olive oil pur­chases, how­ever, fell by 6.5 per­cent.

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The report also pointed out that the vast major­ity of people con­sum­ing olive oil, and other types of veg­etable oils, are older and that olive oil con­sump­tion among Spain’s young people remains quite low.

According to data from the Ministry, Spaniards aged 50 and older accounted for 71.7 per­cent of non-virgin olive oil con­sumed in Spain in 2018, 66.5 per­cent of virgin olive oil and 69.4 per­cent of extra virgin olive oil.

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Meanwhile, Spaniards under the age of 35 accounted for 5.6 per­cent of non-virgin olive oil con­sump­tion, 6.6 per­cent of 5.6 per­cent of extra virgin olive oil con­sump­tion.

The report offered no analy­sis as to why olive oil con­sump­tion among young people remains so low, but did state that cou­ples with older chil­dren, cou­ples with­out chil­dren and retired adults in the middle class were most likely to pur­chase all three types of olive oil.