By Daniel Williams
Olive Oil Times Contributor | Reporting from Barcelona
According to estimates from the International Olive Council, olive oil production around the world is predicted to increase significantly in the next seasonal campaign.
The IOC predicts that world leader Spain will likely stay at about 1.4 million tons of olive oil next season, although it cautions that the final figure could turn out to be higher pending favorable weather conditions. This figure was announced by executive director of the IOC, Mohammed Ouhmad Sbitri, at the inauguration of the 8th Expert’s Olive Oil Tasting Course which took place in Jaén, Spain.
In addition to the 1.4 million tons of Spanish olive oil predicted to be produced, there is still a significant amount of olive oil that remains shored up in warehouses in an effort to raise world prices by limiting supply. Industry experts predict this figure to be around 200,000 tons at the minimum.
The IOC report predicts similar increases in olive oil production elsewhere: Greece is predicted to produce some 336,000 tons in the upcoming campaign, a 5% increase from last season, 9,000 tons for Israel, (157% increase), 60,000 tons for Algeria (126% increase), Iran some 8,000 tons, (50% increase), Albania to reach 7,000 tons, (40% increase), Syria some 193,500 tons, (29% increase), Turkey 160,000 tons, (9% increase), and 15,500 tons for Argentina, which equates to a 9% jump in production.
The only country set to decrease production is Tunisia, whose 120,000 tons amounts to a 20% drop in production from last season’s figures. With respect to other international producers, Mr. Sbitri withheld predictions since these estimates would be less precise and are still undergoing evaluation.
These record-setting levels of production are a growing concern among international olive growers because since January 2005, as global output of olive oil has continued to soar, worldwide farm-gate prices have continued to decline.
Mr. Sbitri explained that the global demand for olive oil has steadily increased in tandem with these increases in production. He believes that there still exists a relative equilibrium between worldwide supply and demand, which he attributes to promotional and marketing efforts that are taking place in countries with historically low levels of olive oil consumption such as Russia and India.
Furthermore, Mr. Sbitri points out that American consumption of olive oil has increased steadily in the past decade, reaching 260,000 tons per year. He predicts the United States to show a similar consumption trend in the future with increases of 4,000 to 6,000 tons of olive oil annually.