For the first time in history Spain has overtaken Italy as the world’s top olive oil exporter in two key markets, the United States and Japan, according to a report issued Monday by the Spanish organization Interprofesional del Aceite de Oliva.

The report indicates that during the first six months of 2014, the United States imported a total of 159,023 MT of olive oil, 45.14 percent of which (71,800 MT) was of Spanish origin. Japan, meanwhile, imported 12,953 MT of Spanish olive oil, 47.08 percent of its total imports. The United States and Japan are currently the world’s second and seventh olive oil importers, respectively.

For years the EU nation has held the title as the world’s top producer and exporter of olive oil. However, this year the combined factors of a record harvest (1,774,200 MT) and lousy results in Greece, Italy, Tunisia and Morocco have helped Spain achieve new milestones such as this one, which Interprofesional del Aceite de Oliva says it has been chasing for decades.

In fact, 20 years ago Spain was only third on the list of olive oil exporters to the United States, with a volume of around 7,500 MT. In the first half of 1995, Spain exported a mere 1,759 MT to Japan.

“Now we are not only global leaders but we are also able to provide that leadership in markets where we began with a notable disadvantage,” said Rafael Pico, spokesman for Interprofesional del Aceite de Oliva.

Spain has also made great strides in promoting the quality of its olive oil, overtaking Italy this year as the country to bring home the most awards in the 2014 New York International Olive Oil Competition.

“We’ve beaten Italy in the U.S. and Japan, but let’s not obsess over it,” Pico added. “Spain has led in the Southeast Asian markets for a long time. In countries like China and India there’s a growing middle class eager to consume high-end products.”

Pico explained that Spain now has its eyes set on Germany, a market where Italy controls 80 percent of the total 50,000 MT imported annually compared to Spain’s 10 percent.

More articles on: , , ,