In the first three months of the crop year (October-December), sales of olive oil and olive pomace oil jumped a whopping 74 percent across eight major markets (Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Japan, Russia, the United States, and the European Union), according to the latest information from the International Olive Council (IOC)

Australia led the way with a 51 percent increase.

But the most interesting news was in China, where imports rose 42 percent in the three-month period. That follows a 12-percent year-over-year increase.

The big winner in the China trade was Spain, which accounted for a full 81 percent of the total. Italy was in second with 13 percent, while Greece was a distant third with 2 percent.

Things look slightly less positive for table olives.

Imports rose in Brazil (21 percent) and Australia (12 percent) in the first four months of the crop year (September – December), but imports to Canada fell 5 percent, while imports to the U.S. were flat.

In E.U. trade, results for December were not yet available. And results for the first three months of the crop year (September to November) were mixed. Intra-EU imports fell 3 percent, while extra-EU imports rose 6 percent.

Olive Oil Prices

Prices reached €3.85/kg ($4.08) in Spain by the end of February, a jump of 19 percent from the prior year. But compared with prices in the third week of August, prices are down 9 percent.

In Italy, prices have been rising steadily since mid-August and hit €6.07/kg ($6.43) at the end of February — a rise of 67 percent year-over-year.

In Greece, have held stable in recent months, and now stand at €3.46/kg ($3.66), a 15 percent rise from a year earlier.

In Tunisia, prices shook off a period of stability and began to rise in late January. By the end of February, prices stood at €4.08/kg ($4.32), a 17 percent increase year-on-year.

Prices for refined oils generally track those of extra virgin olive oil. But by the end of February, some discrepancies appeared.

In Spain, the price difference was €0.12/kg ($0.13) at the close of February. But in Italy, the difference stood at €2.23/kg ($2.36).

Fighting Diabetes

In its latest monthly newsletter, the IOC noted that the World Health Organization believes that diabetes will be the seventh leading cause of death worldwide by 2030. The Mediterranean diet, noted for its high rate of olive oil use, is one of the best ways to prevent and control diabetes.

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