Sales of packaged organic olive oil from Andalusia grew nearly 30 percent in 2010, almost equaling that of the region’s bulk olive oil sales.

Overall, sales of Andalusian organic olive oil were up 7.17 percent over the previous year, reaching a total of 9.6 million kilos, of which nearly 4 million were packaged and the rest bulk.

According to Europa Press, while 2.8 million kilos were sold in Spain, the rest was exported to a total of 43 countries, of which France is still the biggest buyer. Last year the French soaked up 1.7 million kilos and showed an increased interest in the packaged variety, with those sales up about 104 percent to 511,017 kilos.

No such trend in Italy, the next main buyer, which took 1.6 million kilos and all of them bulk. According to Francisco Casero, president of the Andalusian Committee of Ecologic Agriculture (CAAE), and Francisco Zurera, the Córdoba delegate of Andalusia’s Agriculture and Fisheries department, Italy later sells the oil “as its own,” above all in the United States.

“However, Andalusia is itself having a big impact in this (American) market, selling 337,734 kilos of its packaged organic olive oil and a further 141,271 kilos of bulk oil,” they said.

Meanwhile Japan, the third biggest importer of Andalusia’s organic oil, is the biggest buyer of the packaged sort. Japan bought nearly one million kilos last year, of which the vast majority (930,212 kilos) were packaged.

Andalusia now devotes 46,902 hectares to organic olive oil production, up 8,885 hectares on 2009.

Most of Spain’s olive oil exports are still in bulk but trade in packaged oil – in containers of less than 5 liters usually marketed directly to consumers, restaurants, and gourmet shops – has doubled in the last five years and the upward trend continues.

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