`EVOO Consumption in Italy Rose in 2020, Production Slipped - Olive Oil Times

EVOO Consumption in Italy Rose in 2020, Production Slipped

Feb. 10, 2021
Paolo DeAndreis

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Italian extra vir­gin olive oil con­sump­tion grew by about six per­cent in 2020, accord­ing to a report by the Italian Association of the Oil Industry (Assitol).

Two-thirds of Italians said they believe extra vir­gin olive oil is a high-qual­ity prod­uct with excep­tional fla­vor, the report found. Sixty per­cent buy the prod­uct because they know it is healthy.

Consumers have evolved, they look for a qual­ity prod­uct, read the labels and know what they are look­ing for. They do not stick to a sin­gle prod­uct, but wan­der from one type to the other.- Anna Cane, pres­i­dent, Assitol

The Assitol report also found that the aver­age con­sumer bought nine-per­cent more olive oil in 2020 than the pre­vi­ous year, reach­ing 11.5 liters per capita.

According to the indus­try group, these num­bers show the stark dif­fer­ence between how younger gen­er­a­tions con­sume extra vir­gin olive oil.

More specif­i­cally, con­sumers under the age of 40 were more inter­ested in know­ing about the prove­nance of the oils they pur­chased and often bought their olive oil from small or medium-sized farm­ers.


Older con­sumers tend to trust more estab­lished brands.

Assitol par­tially attrib­uted this shift in con­sumer behav­ior to the grow­ing appre­ci­a­tion for olive oil cul­ture among Italians.

Major brands began focus­ing on the extra vir­gin mar­ket in the 1980s. When research into the health ben­e­fits of olive oil accel­er­ated in the 1990s, more pro­duc­ers began dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing their prod­ucts.

See Also:2020 Harvest Updates

Today on the shelves, we find many dif­fer­ent prod­ucts: 100-per­cent Italian, European, PDO/PGI, organic, fil­tered, unfil­tered, sus­tain­able,” said Anna Cane, Assitol’s pres­i­dent.

Consumers have evolved; they look for a qual­ity prod­uct, read the labels and know what they are look­ing for,” she added. They do not stick to a sin­gle prod­uct but wan­der from one type to the other.”

According to Cane, the grow­ing inter­est in extra vir­gin olive oil among young con­sumers goes well beyond Italian bor­ders, cit­ing the United States as a promi­nent exam­ple.

That is good news,” Cane said. Those who begin con­sum­ing this prod­uct at a younger age make a healthy food choice that gives us hope for a bright future.”

However, as olive oil con­sump­tion grows, Italian pro­duc­tion has not fol­lowed the same trend.

The lat­est results reported by Assitol revealed the dia­met­ric pro­duc­tion pat­tern was set to con­tinue. The south of the coun­try has faced steep declines while the cen­tral and north­ern regions have seen growth.

In its final bal­ance crop year, Assitol said Italy pro­duced 250,000 tons of olive oil in 2020/21, down from the 336,000 tons pro­duced in the pre­vi­ous year and slightly lower than pre­vi­ous esti­mates.

Puglia, respon­si­ble for nearly half of Italy’s over­all yield, suf­fered a 50-per­cent drop in pro­duc­tion. Similar sit­u­a­tions were observed in Sicily and Calabria.

Production increases in Tuscany, Umbria and Marche slightly off­set the sig­nif­i­cant decreases in the south of the coun­try.

According to Assitol, extreme cli­matic events have con­tributed to decreased qual­ity, specif­i­cally for the blends often pro­duced by the largest brands com­posed of oils from sev­eral des­ti­na­tions tai­lored to con­sumer taste pref­er­ences.

Companies have faced more dif­fi­cul­ties in the research and selec­tion of high-qual­ity raw mate­r­ial, whose pro­duc­tion costs this year are even higher than before,” Andrea Carrassi, Assitol’s gen­eral man­ager, said.


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