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Table Olive Consumption Has Doubled Since 1999

Table olive consumption has increased most in the largest table olive producing countries. Raised awareness of the health benefits of olives may be partially responsible.

Mar. 12, 2019
By Daniel Dawson

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Over the past three decades, global table olive con­sump­tion has grown by about 179 per­cent, accord­ing to data from the Inter­na­tional Olive Coun­cil.

The main char­ac­ter­is­tic of this evo­lu­tion is the growth of con­sump­tion in the non‑E.U. coun­tries, which has risen steadily in recent decades- Juan Vicente Calvo, IOC

The bulk of this con­sump­tion increase has come from key table olive pro­duc­ing coun­tries. The IOC also sus­pects that increased aware­ness in the health ben­e­fits of table olives has also helped to spur growth in places such as Euro­pean Union coun­tries.

The main char­ac­ter­is­tic of this evo­lu­tion is the growth of con­sump­tion in the non‑E.U. coun­tries, which has risen steadily in recent decades,” Juan Vicente Calvo, the head of research and eco­nomic sta­tis­tics at the IOC, told Olive Oil Times. The Euro­pean Union has remained sta­ble in the recent decades.”

See more: Table Olive News

Egypt, which is the world’s sec­ond largest table olive pro­ducer, and Alge­ria, the fourth, both expe­ri­enced far and away the high­est lev­els of growth, with con­sump­tion increas­ing by 3,260 per­cent and 2,330 per­cent, respec­tively.

Over the same period of time, table olive con­sump­tion in Turkey more than tripled, while con­sump­tion in Euro­pean Union coun­tries grew by nearly 70 per­cent.

The com­bined mar­kets of the Euro­pean Union, Egypt, Turkey and the United States cur­rently account for about 57 per­cent of global table olive con­sump­tion.

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How­ever, it is Alba­nia and Syria that lead the way in global table olive con­sump­tion per capita, with the two Mediter­ranean nations con­sum­ing 10.8 and 10.1 kilo­grams per per­son each year, respec­tively.

Alge­ria is the third largest con­sumer per capita and the largest among IOC nations, with each per­son eat­ing on aver­age 7.2 kilo­grams per year. The fourth high­est rate is Egypt and Turkey, both of which con­sume 4.1 kilo­grams per capita. By com­par­i­son, the United States only con­sumes 0.6 kilo­grams per capita.

Dur­ing the past three decades, table olive pro­duc­tion has more than tripled, with total pro­duc­tion ris­ing from 950,000 tons in 1990/91 to 2,953,500 tons in 2017/18. The major­ity of this growth has been spurred by the Mediter­ranean basin and North Africa.

Egypt, Turkey, Spain, Alge­ria, Greece, Argentina, Iran and Morocco have seen the largest increases in table olive pro­duc­tion over this time period.

The aver­age pro­duc­tion is grow­ing up accord­ingly with the con­sump­tion,” Vicente Calvo said. The pro­duc­tion is increas­ing due to the fact that new plan­ta­tions are being installed and exist­ing ones restored.”

Egypt recently announced an ambi­tious plan to become the world’s largest table olive pro­ducer, which would involve plant­ing 100 mil­lion new olive trees by 2020.

Spain, which in recent years has boosted olive yields, in part, due to more effi­cient agri­cul­tural tech­niques, is cur­rently the largest global table olive pro­ducer, har­vest­ing 613,000 tons of table olives in the 2017/18 sea­son.

Table olive pro­duc­tion has also increased sub­stan­tially in Turkey, ris­ing by 14 per­cent to 455,000 tons.

The use of new semi-inten­sive and exten­sive plan­ta­tions with high-den­sity trees per [acre] increase the pro­duc­tion,” Vicente Calvo said. They are also work­ing with grafts, more effi­cient water pro­ce­dures as well as improv­ing the mech­a­niza­tion and dynamism of the sec­tor.”

Out­side of IOC pro­duc­ing nations, table olive pro­duc­tion in both Mex­ico and the United States is esti­mated to have grown by 11 per­cent and nine per­cent, respec­tively.

Syria is the only coun­try that is expect­ing a major decrease in table olive pro­duc­tion this year, with a decline of about 47 per­cent. The ongo­ing civil war and Turk­ish occu­pa­tion in the north of the coun­try are widely seen as the rea­sons for this decrease.

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