Tunisia Plans to Expand Olive Oil Exports to South Korea

Agriculture officials and diplomatic staff touted the country's rising profile as a high-quality producer of olive oil at a local event in South Korea.
Seoul, South Korea
By Ofeoritse Daibo
Jul. 26, 2023 21:34 UTC

Tunisia is set to increase its olive oil exports to South Korea, accord­ing to exporters who hope to expand Tunisia’s share of olive oil into the Asian Pacific coun­try.

At the Korea Import Fair, held from June 29th to July 1st in Seoul, the Tunisian Export Promotion Center, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Tunisian embassy based in South Korea, exhib­ited a large selec­tion of Tunisian agri-food prod­ucts.

According to Boughedir Ahmed, an offi­cial from the Tunisian embassy at the event, the aim was to pro­mote Tunisia’s agri­cul­tural pro­duce and diver­sify its exports into Asia.

See Also:Tunisian Officials See Bright Future for Local Olive Oil Industry

According to the Observatory of Economic Complexity, Tunisia exported $690 mil­lion (€583 mil­lion*) worth of olive oil in 2021 (the last year for which data are avail­able), mak­ing it one of the world’s lead­ing olive oil exporters.

Due to its prox­im­ity to Europe, most of its agri­cul­tural exports travel north across the Mediterranean Sea. Similarly, most of Tunisia’s imports come from Europe.

However, in the past 26 years, Tunisia’s exports to South Korea have increased at an annual rate of 8.8 per­cent, ris­ing to an export value of $87.8 mil­lion (€74.3 mil­lion) in 2021.

Tunisia’s biggest exports to South Korea in 2021 were scrap cop­per ($16.4 million/€13.9 mil­lion), crus­taceans ($9.2 million/€7.8 mil­lion) and plas­tic prod­ucts ($7.59 million/€6.42 mil­lion). South Korea’s top exports to Tunisia in 2021 were rail trans­port ($72.7 million/€61.5 mil­lion) and cars ($66 million/€55.8 mil­lion).

Boughedir Ahmed said the food fair allowed Tunisian pro­duc­ers to mar­ket their olive oil prod­ucts while iden­ti­fy­ing reli­able trad­ing part­ners.

We have olive oil, which is already famous in the mar­ket, but we are not sat­is­fied with the quan­tity sold in Korea,” he said. We know that we have one of the best prod­ucts in the world, and we are among the top three exporters in the world, but to be frank, we have a very small mar­ket share in Korea.”

Olive oil sales are grow­ing quickly in South Korea, where olive oil is incor­po­rated into tra­di­tional cuisines, includ­ing instant noo­dles, Korean fried chicken, and beauty and hair prod­ucts.

In 2021, South Korea imported $10 mil­lion (€8.5 mil­lion) of olive oil, becom­ing the 12th largest importer of olive oil in the world. In the same year, olive oil was the 942nd most imported prod­uct in South Korea.

Although there is a grow­ing appetite for olive oil, South Korea imports its olive oil pri­mar­ily from Italy ($5.61 million/€4.74 mil­lion), Spain ($3.53 million/€2.99 mil­lion), the United States ($394,000/€333,245), Turkey ($337,000/€285,000), and Australia ($187,000/€158,160).

However, pro­duc­ers and offi­cials in Tunisia are increas­ingly focused on grow­ing the coun­try’s mar­ket share of indi­vid­u­ally-pack­aged exports, which are worth far more for the coun­try’s trea­sury and farm­ers than the tra­di­tional bulk exports to Italy and Spain.

Additionally, investors from Southeast Asian coun­tries are increas­ingly look­ing to Tunisia to fill the new­found demand for olive oil in coun­tries tra­di­tion­ally dom­i­nated by other edi­ble oils.

Ahmed is con­fi­dent that Korean con­sumers will even­tu­ally rec­og­nize and look for high-qual­ity prod­ucts from Tunisia.

We will keep par­tic­i­pat­ing in dif­fer­ent exhi­bi­tions and try­ing to keep going until we find the good alchemy between our prod­ucts and the Korean mar­ket,” he said. We are aware that it will take time, but the Korean mar­ket will under­stand the qual­ity of Tunisian prod­ucts. I’m sure they will.”

Olive Oil Times used the annual aver­age exchange rate for 2021 to make USD to EUR con­ver­sions.


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