Producers Puzzled by Turkish Ban on Bulk Olive Oil Exports

In a season where 220,000 tons were produced, Turkey has stopped bulk olive oil exports until the end of next October.
Apr 22, 2021 7:46 AM EDT
Costas Vasilopoulos

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Exports of olive oil in bulk have been put on hold in Turkey.

After a request from the coun­try’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the Ministry of Commerce imposed a ban on olive oil exports in bulk effec­tive until October 31, 2021, on the grounds of the uncer­tainty caused by the Covid-19 pan­demic and fears of infla­tion in the country’s econ­omy.

Approximately 55 per­cent of our exports are in bulk. Under these con­di­tions, we do not see the ban on the export of bulk olive oil as the right move.- Aegean Olive Oil Exporters Association, 

However, olive oil pack­aged in bot­tles or bar­rels is free to be exported as usual. Furthermore, taxes imposed on imported sun­flower, canola and saf­flower oil have been waived in the coun­try until July 1.

At the moment, every­body is com­plain­ing about uncer­tainty,” said Harun Seçkin, the head of the Food and Control depart­ment of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Turkey. We do not know what will hap­pen tomor­row. Some coun­tries, espe­cially in terms of oil, buy more than their needs.”

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In this frame­work, we thought that a restric­tion on the export of our olive oil in bulk would be appro­pri­ate,” he added. There is no prob­lem in export­ing pack­aged and bot­tled [olive oil]. It is not right for us to export the oil we have in bulk in this uncer­tain envi­ron­ment.”

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Seçkin also said that the price of sun­flower oil is almost equal to the price of olive oil. He also main­tained that the export ban aims to pre­vent prod­uct short­ages and secure rea­son­able prices for domes­tic con­sumers.

It is also a deci­sion in favor of the con­sumer,” he said. It pro­tects the con­sumer in terms of both price and prod­uct avail­abil­ity.”

Turkey imposed a sim­i­lar ban back in December 2001, which had restricted exports of olive oil in bulk until the end of October 2002 and had caused con­tro­versy in the sec­tor.

The curb put on Turkish bulk olive oil exports came in a sea­son where olive oil pro­duc­tion is expected to reach 220,000 tons, accord­ing to data released by the European Commission in March.

The Aegean Olive Oil Exporters Association (EZZIB) of Turkey rejected the export pro­hi­bi­tion and said there is an ade­quate quan­tity of Turkish olive oil to be exported.

Exports [of olive oil] are at low lev­els com­pared to past sea­sons,” a writ­ten state­ment of the asso­ci­a­tion read. Turkey’s annual domes­tic con­sump­tion is 140,000 tons, and we have around 60,000 to 70,000 tons that can be exported.”

Approximately 55 per­cent of our exports are in bulk,” the EZZIB added. Under these con­di­tions, we do not see the ban on the export of bulk olive oil as the right move.”

See Also: Olive Oil Prices Hit Two-Year High in Spain

In the last two har­vest­ing sea­sons, more than half of the exports of Turkish olive oil were in bulk. In the cur­rent 2020/21 sea­son, 16,653 tons of olive oil were exported from November 1 until February 28, of which 47 per­cent was shipped abroad in bulk, four per­cent in bar­rels and the remain­ing 49 per­cent as bot­tled olive oil.

Exporters also claimed that the ban in the mid­dle of the sea­son could cause sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic dam­age to Turkish olive oil pro­duc­ers and exporters.

We expect a for­mula from the two min­istries so that the bulk olive oil export ban does not harm the pro­ducer and exporter,” Davut Er, the chair­man of EZZIB, said. The ban on bulk exports of olive oil of Turkey advances the dam­age to hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars.”

The exporters rejected the jus­ti­fi­ca­tion they received from the gov­ern­ment that olive oil prices will increase food infla­tion” and accused the mar­ket chains of the coun­try of con­vinc­ing the gov­ern­ment to impose the ban to increase the avail­able quan­ti­ties of olive oil and sell at lower prices.

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In my opin­ion, this deci­sion has affected the strate­gies of exporters and pro­duc­ers,” Suzan Kantarci, an NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition panel mem­ber from Turkey, told Olive Oil Times.

She said that the ban might lead pro­duc­ers to focus more on qual­ity and cause them to enter more com­pe­ti­tions in an effort to make their indi­vid­u­ally-pack­aged prod­ucts stand out.

They may plan to enter the American mar­ket with NYIOOC com­pe­ti­tion medals on their boxed pack­ages,” Kantarci added.

For the 2021 NYIOOC there are 87 entries from Turkey, more than dou­ble the sub­mis­sions from the coun­try last year, accord­ing to the com­pe­ti­tion’s orga­niz­ers.

See Also: The Best Olive Oils from Turkey

The restric­tion on exports also baf­fled olive oil pro­duc­ers in the coun­try, who tried to con­nect the dots and explain the ban.

I think one can only spec­u­late about the rea­sons,” one pro­ducer told Olive Oil Times. The olive har­vest in Turkey was nor­mal and the prices were not high either. One pos­si­ble rea­son could be the ris­ing infla­tion in Turkey.”

The gov­ern­ment may be try­ing to fight infla­tion by keep­ing food in the coun­try,” the pro­ducer added. This is also sup­ported by the fact that not only olive oil but many other edi­ble oils are affected by this export ban.”



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