Spanish exports of olive oil to Australia reached some 30,746 tons during 2009 in a dramatic 30 percent increase from the previous year’s figures. According to OFCOMES, Spain’s Office of Economy and Commerce in Sydney, Spain remains Australia’s principal provider of olive oil, dominating 61% of the market quota.
Spain is currently the world’s leading exporter of extra virgin olive oil per tonnage having surpassed Italy for a second consecutive year, although previously in Australia, its Italian neighbors have traditionally dominated the market. María Gorriti, a chief adviser at Spain’s Office of Economy and Commerce in Sydney, sees Spain’s dominance in the Australian market as an important strategic win as Australia is now the largest per capita consumer of olive oil outside the European Union with 2.2 liters per person consumed annually. At present, Australia remains a land of great opportunities for olive oil producing nations due to a growing demand for health conscious, organic, ecologically-friendly food products. With that said, these are still relatively low levels of consumption when compared to the staggering figures taken from within the European Union: Greece’s per capita consumption soars at some 25 liters per person annually while Spaniards consume 12 liters a year on average.
And although Spanish sales to Australia in 2009 did not reach the astronomical levels of 2007, when an incredible record-setting 42,828 tons of olive oil were exported to the Aussies, they did surpass those of 2008. Gorriti has indicated that olive oil is becoming an increasingly important player in the Australian markets due to its avid promotion by some of country’s most famous chefs. This is having an indubitable influence in the popularization of olive oil in general and with the support of these chefs over the years, the Spanish product in particular has come to gain recognition and prestige among Australian importers, distributors, and the general population.
According to Gorriti, the Australian popular perception of Spanish olive oil is definitely a positive one, but there still exists a lingering ignorance about its many uses. Coupled with this, Australia is also home to a large number of Italian and Greek ex-pats who have continued to be loyal consumers of olive oil from their native countries. Therefore, to offset these factors, Spain has launched institutional promotional campaigns for Spanish specific oil throughout Australia under the slogan “Love Olives and Olive Oil from Spain”. The campaigning has been primarily internet-based although the marketing campaign has included public posters and subway advertising as well as a public sponsorship of the La Mirada film festival.
The websites and e-campaigns offer Australian consumers information on where and how to buy Spanish olives and olive oil, explain the oil’s culinary versatility and provide data on its long-term health benefits when consumed regularly. This Spanish marketing campaign has embraced the new wave of internet marketing fully, even launching its own Facebook page. Gorriti feels that in a large part, these Spanish public relations campaigns will be responsible for cementing Spain as the leading exporter of olive oil to Australia in years to come.