Transportation Strikes in Spain Lead to Decrease in Olive Oil Exports

Officials warned that the latest setback for the sector may cause irreversible damage and lead to permanent market share loss in some key destinations.

Apr. 5, 2022
By Eduardo Hernandez

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The ongo­ing road haulers’ strike in Spain con­tin­ues to cause alarm as the dis­tri­b­u­tion of goods in the coun­try is dis­rupted.

Along with inter­nal dis­tri­b­u­tion, some offi­cials are con­cerned that olive oil exports are being severely impacted too.

The worst thing now isn’t the eco­nomic impact that we can suf­fer while the stop­page lasts; it’s that a lot of our buy­ers who are not able to receive our goods have resorted to buy­ing olive oil from other coun­tries.- Rafael Pico Lapuente, exec­u­tive direc­tor, Asoliva

There has prac­ti­cally been a total ces­sa­tion because we have suf­fered protests out­side of the indus­tries and fac­to­ries, as well as in the entrance of the ports,” said Rafael Pico Lapuente, the exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Spanish Association of Olive Oil Exporting, Industry and Commerce (Asoliva).

If there hasn’t been a com­plete reduc­tion in exports, then at the very least there has been an 80 per­cent reduc­tion,” he added.

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Lapuente warned that the con­sid­er­able export reduc­tion would have severe con­se­quences on the sec­tor since Spain exports three-fourths of the olive oil that it pro­duces.

If you can’t export and 75 per­cent of the wealth comes from the exports, then we are head­ing down a bad path,” he said.

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The strike, which has caused the aver­age olive oil prices to increase immensely in Spain, has com­pounded sup­ply chain dif­fi­cul­ties in other areas of the edi­ble oil mar­ket too. As a result of the war in Ukraine, sun­flower oil prices have risen above €3.00 per liter in Spain, 70-per­cent above aver­age.

Average olive oil prices have also risen. Prices were hov­er­ing around €4.00 per liter until March but have since increased to about €5.00 per liter.

Pico Lapuente pre­vi­ously told Olive Oil Times that high olive oil prices in Spain also hurt exporters as Spanish olive oil becomes less com­pet­i­tive than oils from Italy, Tunisia, Morocco or Turkey.

Along with impact­ing prices, the strike has affected other aspects of the mar­ket, such as the con­sumers.

Although the strike has less­ened recently, Pico Lapuente said a huge part of the dam­age done to the sec­tor is irre­versible.

The worst thing now isn’t the eco­nomic impact that we can suf­fer while the stop­page lasts; it’s that a lot of our buy­ers who are not able to receive our goods have resorted to buy­ing olive oil from other coun­tries, such as Portugal, Italy or Tunisia,” he said. That is very bad news for us.”

Pico Lapuente said he believes the Spanish gov­ern­ment is respon­si­ble for not tack­ling the con­flict the right way. He added that he is wor­ried that the image of Spain as the world leader in olive oil pro­duc­tion and exports may be dimin­ished.

The gov­ern­ment has taken a long time to act and nego­ti­ate, and the whole world has suf­fered the con­se­quences,” he said.

Even when the strike ends, Pico Lapuente fears that things will not imme­di­ately go back to nor­mal since the ports are likely to be backed up with an over­load of goods need­ing to be moved.

Everything that hasn’t been exported before will be exported now,” he said. Since we already needed con­tain­ers and ship­ping com­pa­nies since the clo­sure of the Suez Canal and the eco­nomic cri­sis, the prob­lem will now be big­ger.”

Pico Lapuente said the strike com­pounded sev­eral other fac­tors that are cre­at­ing prob­lems for Spanish olive oil pro­duc­ers, includ­ing the impacts of the Covid-19 pan­demic, the legacy of the cur­rently-paused tar­iffs imposed by the United States and the loss of mar­ket share for Spanish olive oil in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine due to the war.



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