Global Olive Oil Production Will Reach 4.4M Tons by 2050, Expert Projects

Intensive groves will outnumber traditional farms thirty years from now, and the number of olive oil-producing countries will rise to 80, says Juan Vilar.

Dec 6, 2021 11:59 AM EST
By Daniel Dawson

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For nearly two decades, Juan Vilar has stud­ied the evo­lu­tion of global olive oil pro­duc­tion. His lat­est project has involved col­lect­ing data from all 66 olive oil-pro­duc­ing coun­tries and mak­ing pro­jec­tions into the sector’s future.

The founder and CEO of Juan Vilar Strategic Consultants and pro­fes­sor at the University of Jaén told Olive Oil Times that he expects a steady tran­si­tion from tra­di­tional groves to high-den­sity and super-high-den­sity (also known as inten­sive and super-inten­sive) groves, espe­cially as olive grow­ing expands north­ward.

Modern olive groves would be respon­si­ble for pro­duc­ing 77 per­cent of the total of the 4.4 mil­lion sta­ble tons that will be pro­duced (by 2050).- Juan Vilar, strate­gic con­sul­tant

The trend is that the area of​olive groves with a high slope and mod­er­ate slope in dry land is reduced and the area of​mod­ern olive groves increases, espe­cially the mod­ern olive grove in the crown and irri­gated hedges,” he said.

It is expected that the olive grove area will go from 11,594,986 hectares, at present, to 15,259,471 hectares by 2050,” Vilar added. That is, in 30 years, the pro­jec­tion of the olive grove area is expected to increase by 32 per­cent com­pared with 2021.”

See Also: 5.5 Million Hectares of Traditional Olive Groves at Risk of Abandonment

In the year 2041, the world’s olive grove sur­face area will be 14.1 mil­lion hectares, of which 39 per­cent is tra­di­tional olive groves, com­pared to 7.1 mil­lion in 1991, of which 92 per­cent were tra­di­tional,” he con­tin­ued. And it is esti­mated that by the year 2041, there will be 80 olive oil-pro­duc­ing coun­tries, ris­ing from 26 in 1991.”

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All this is eas­ily pro­jected when you have the trend of the evo­lu­tion in the com­po­si­tion of the olive grove and typol­ogy of the 66 cur­rent pro­duc­ing coun­tries over the last 40 years, and the cur­rent trans­for­ma­tion and plan­ta­tion data are known,” Vilar said. The rest is done by math­e­mat­i­cal analy­sis, tak­ing into account the cycli­cal biases of the mar­ket, which also existed pre­vi­ously.”

Based on his pro­jec­tions, Vilar said that cli­mate change will have two pro­found impacts on the future of olive cul­ti­va­tion.

Future water avail­abil­ity will force pro­duc­ers to become more effi­cient and respon­si­ble in plant­ing and irri­gat­ing their groves. Changing weather pat­terns across the world will also con­di­tion how olive oil pro­duc­tion evolves in the Mediterranean basin.

Indeed, cli­mate change will act as a neg­a­tive cat­a­lyst in one area and as a pos­i­tive impulse in oth­ers,” Vilar said. All this will depend on whether it is a coun­try with a hot and dry cli­mate or a wet and cold cli­mate.”

We bear in mind that the olive tree is already grown in Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom,” he added. This was unthink­able 10 years ago. Without a doubt, almost 15 new pro­duc­ing coun­tries will debut in just 20 years.”

Vilar pre­dicts that most new olive groves planted, whether in tra­di­tional olive oil-pro­duc­ing coun­tries or new ones, will be high-den­sity and super-high-den­sity, which will result in a mas­sive increase in global olive oil pro­duc­tion.

Currently, tra­di­tional olive groves account for 68 per­cent of olive grove sur­face area and high-den­sity and super-high-den­sity olive groves account for the other 32 per­cent.

business-production-world-global-olive-oil-production-will-reach-44m-tons-by-2050-expert-projects-olive-oil-times

Juan Vilar

However, Vilar believes these fig­ures will more or less have flipped by the mid-point of the cen­tury when an esti­mated 15.3 mil­lion hectares of farm­land will be ded­i­cated to olive grow­ing.

Of the total sur­face area, 40 per­cent – 5.5 mil­lion hectares – would be tra­di­tional non-trans­formable olive groves, which would pro­duce 23 per­cent of all the oil gen­er­ated by then on the planet,” he said.

The remain­ing 60 per­cent of sur­face area, occu­pied by mod­ern olive groves (mainly in hedges), would be respon­si­ble for pro­duc­ing 77 per­cent of the 4.4 mil­lion sta­ble tons that will be pro­duced at that time, with a full nom­i­nal capac­ity of 5.8 mil­lion tons, as well as a higher pro­por­tion of vir­gin and extra vir­gin olive oil,” he added. There will be a greater vari­etal spe­cial­iza­tion.”

Currently, global olive oil pro­duc­tion is about 3.12 mil­lion tons each year, with the high­est total of 3.38 mil­lion tons pro­duced in the 2017/18 crop year.

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Production will steadily increase because most of the olive groves in the 14 new olive oil-pro­duc­ing coun­tries are expected to be planted in high-den­sity or super-high-den­sity. Many tra­di­tional olive oil pro­duc­ers will also tran­si­tion to higher-den­sity plan­ta­tions.

See Also: Intensive Olive Farms Contribute to Desertification in Spain, Experts Warn

Some coun­tries that will expe­ri­ence a shift from tra­di­tional olive groves to a higher per­cent­age of inten­sive olive groves and hedgerows will be Spain, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Tunisia and Turkey,” Vilar said.

Despite this tran­si­tion, the con­cen­tra­tion of olive groves is expected to be a bit more spread out in the future. However, Vilar said that tra­di­tional olive oil-pro­duc­ing coun­tries do not need to worry about being out­com­peted by new­com­ers any­time soon.

Currently, 87 per­cent of the world’s olive groves are located in nine Mediterranean coun­tries. However, this fig­ure will decrease as cli­mate change causes new areas to become increas­ingly apt for olive grow­ing and oth­ers to become less so.

Let us bear in mind that a 32-per­cent pos­i­tive evo­lu­tion of the sur­face area is expected in the next 30 years,” Vilar said.

Without a doubt, in those 80 pro­duc­ing coun­tries, only 10 will con­tinue to hold more than 70 per­cent of the total sur­face,” he con­cluded. The incor­po­ra­tion of new pro­duc­ers will boost con­sump­tion out of famil­iar­ity, but in no case will they pose a threat to those olive groves.”


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