Greece still leads the world in per capita olive oil consumption, with each person consuming nearly 18kg yearly, according to figures from the European Commission.
In a table of per capita olive oil consumption in the European Union for 2011/12, Greece is at the top with 17.9kg, followed by Spain with 12.6kg, Italy 10.9kg, Cyprus 7.5kg and Portugal 7.4kg.
And the just over half a million people who live in Luxembourg, one of the world’s financial capitals, lapped up an average of 2.7kg of olive oil each, to slip in next, ahead of the French and Maltese, who averaged 1.7kg per person.
Demand down in Spain
Meanwhile, the latest figures from the Spanish Olive Oil Agency (AAO) show that domestic consumption in Spain continues to slide and is down 22 percent for the first seven months of this season (Otober 2012 to April 2013) compared to the same period last season, and 18 percent compared to the average for the four previous seasons. Exports are also 28 percent and 19 percent lower respectively.
According to the AAO’s market report, Spain had olive oil stocks of 757,000 tons at the end of April, after producing 612,900 tons this season – down 62 percent on 2011/12 – and importing 68,100 tons.
Producer prices in Spain
According to Spain’s POOLred price observatory, the average ex-mill price for olive oil in Spain for the last week of May is €2.51 a kilo, down from €2.69 for the last week of April, and €2.83 in the last week of March but nearly 85 cents above that of the middle of last year, when prices started to recover there.
Spanish olive oil producer Rafael Muela told Olive Oil Times he expected little movement in the spot price for olive oil in the next few months as people waited to see how the next crop would be.
“The flowers are increasing very fast and based on the appearance of some small fruit it looks like next year will be a very good one,” he said.
It that outlook held, prices would probably fall towards the end of the year, he said.
“We were afraid at the start of the year (when grower prices were about $3/kg), because we felt that even international consumption would fall.”
“We are comfortable at the current price nationally as at this level farms are profitable,” he said.
“We would sell a little bit more at a lower price but we have to take care of our farmers. We don’t need to drop down to the prices of last year or two years ago or we’ll lose farmers.”
“Maintaining them at the level now we make for a healthier sector and not only in Spain but these prices will also be good for farmers in California and other places.”
Muela, co-owner and senior marketing vice-president of Córdoba-based Mueloliva, said he did not think sales would pick up in the national market if the current price level held but at least they would be maintained or perhaps rise a little internationally.