According to the head of the olive oil sector at the European Commission, the final production and trade figures from the European Union for the 2020/21 crop year confirm a growing trend.
Gabriel Vigil told a meeting of the International Olive Council that exports, which reached 634,000 tons in 2020/21, are destined to accelerate. He added that the E.U. produced 2.05 tons of olive oil in the previous crop year.
According to the latest E.U. estimates, the international olive oil trade will not stop growing until at least 2030.See Also: Olive Oil Trade News
E.U. experts said olive oil exports will grow both in existing markets and new ones due to the growing popularity of extra virgin olive oil and the Mediterranean diet. Between 2022 and 2030, E.U. olive oil exports are estimated to exceed one million tons, nearly 40 percent above the rolling five-year average (717,900 tons).
While speaking at the IOC conference in Tbilisi, Georgia, Vigil explained how the growth of olive oil imports in the E.U. will flatten from the next season on while production should reach almost 2.5 million tons by 2030.
Vigil noted that less than six million hectares within the E.U. are devoted to olive growing, and this figure was unlikely to increase much in the coming years.
He attributed this to competition coming from other crops and the challenges related to water availability. Still, Vigil added, the share of irrigated olive groves is increasing steadily, confirming the growing relevance of high-density and super-high-density olive groves in the future of production.
As the trend toward modern olive growing continues, olive growing in the E.U. is expected to be increasingly organic with the ability to anticipate the harvest and curtail pests and pathogens while increasing quality.
Spain and Italy are expected to remain the most relevant producing countries in the E.U., but Vigil added that Portugal is expected to see the largest production increases, a rise of three percent by 2030 compared with 2019.
While the E.U. is expected to deliver 2.92 million of the 3.11 million tons of olive oil expected to be produced globally in 2021/22, the 27-member state is also seeing its olive oil consumption slow
According to Vigil, consumption dropped from 1.79 million tons in 2011/12 to the 1.46 million tons forecasted for the current season.
He warned that the future of the global olive oil trade is connected to the ability of the sector to overcome serious challenges such as climate change and the growing role of non‑E.U. olive oil producers, including Tunisia, Egypt and Turkey.
However, Vigil concluded that opportunities lie in changing global consumer behavior, which is increasingly favorable to olive oil.