Spain’s olive oil production is down 62 percent for the first four months of this season compared to the last one, according to the Olive Oil Agency (AAO).

Its latest report shows output of just over 543,000 tons for October to January, compared to more than 1.4 million for the same period in 2011/12, when Spain set an all-time high in its harvest.

Yield is also lower. At an average of 18.04 percent for 3 million tons of olives, it is 2.7 points below last season. But worse still for Spain, sales are down too, by 17 percent on last season.

The figure for January is still provisional but suggests exports have slipped nearly a fourth on 2011/12 and 4 percent on the average for the last four seasons, and by 14 and 9 percent in the case of domestic consumption. Spain’s monthly average for exports this season is currently just over 58,000 tons and for domestic consumption, 41,000 tons.

Imports, meanwhile, have more than doubled. From October to January Spain imported 42,900 tons, compared to 18,800 for the same period a year ago and 13,500 in 2010/11.

Stocks at end January stood at 881,500 tons, 13 percent below the average for the last four seasons and well under the 1.4 million of reserves Spain held at the same time last year.

The POOLred ex-mill reference price for olive oil was €2.76/kg for the week to February 27, down from €2.81 a week before and €2.86 at the end of January, but still well up on €1.67/kg early last July when prices started to recover in Spain after several years at rock bottom.

In a market report last week, Olimerca magazine said sales had been dampened lately by expectations of price rises in March.

“Boatloads of olive oil keep arriving from Tunisia,” it added, “and the rain of the last two months has been very good for the land, auguring well for a recovery in terms of better olive flowering in May.”

Table olives

Table olive production for the first five months of the 2012/13 season (Sept-Jan) totals 479,940 tons, 8 percent less than at the same time last season.

But unlike in the olive oil market, exports are up, by 14 percent, and total nearly 123,000 tons. Domestic consumption is also up, by 6 percent, accounting for sales of nearly 73,000 tons.

Spain’s table olive stocks at January 31 totaled 614,120 tons, down 10 percent on last season.

Table olive market expansion in India

Spain has found growing demand for its table olives in India, according to José Manuel Escrig, deputy director of Spain’s Association of Table Olive Producers and Exporters (Asemesa).

In the association’s February newsletter he reported that exports of Spanish table olives to India increased by nearly a quarter last year, compared to 2011.

In 2012, India imported just over 1.1 million kilos of Spanish olives, valued at more than €1.6 million, and mainly of the hojiblanca variety. Two thirds of the imports were black olives and more than half in sliced format, with a quarter pitted, he said.

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