`Olive Oil Consumption Holds Steady as Production Slips, Latest Data Shows - Olive Oil Times

Olive Oil Consumption Holds Steady as Production Slips, Latest Data Shows

By Paolo DeAndreis
Jul. 19, 2021 09:30 UTC

Despite the vast major­ity of the world strug­gling to con­tain the Covid-19 pan­demic, global olive oil con­sump­tion did not fal­ter, accord­ing to the lat­est report from the International Olive Council (IOC).

The IOC esti­mates that con­sump­tion will reach 3.211 mil­lion tons in the 2020/21 crop year, which ends in September, just 0.2 per­cent less than the pre­vi­ous year.

Spain is a coun­try that is cur­rently not in its best range of olive oil pro­duc­tion, due to sev­eral rea­sons.- Juan Vilar, strate­gic con­sul­tant

However, global olive oil pro­duc­tion is esti­mated to reach 3.034 mil­lion tons, a decrease of 6.9 per­cent com­pared to last year, but just 1.7 per­cent below the rolling five-year aver­age.

Meanwhile, imports are also down 9.3 per­cent, hit­ting 1.074 mil­lion tons and exports are down 8.8 per­cent, at 1.132 mil­lion tons.

See Also:2021 Harvest Updates

Spain once again con­firmed its role as the lead­ing olive oil pro­ducer, with pro­duc­tion for the cur­rent crop year esti­mated to reach 1.4 mil­lion tons, a 24 per­cent increase com­pared to the pre­vi­ous year and 1.9 per­cent above the rolling five-year aver­age.

This year’s yield is the sec­ond-high­est for Spain in the past half-decade, but well below the 1.785 mil­lion tons recorded in the 2018/19 crop year. According to Juan Vilar, an inter­na­tional olive oil con­sul­tant, Spanish pro­duc­tion is still not reach­ing its full poten­tial.

Spain has enough olive trees to achieve, as of right now, two mil­lion tons of olive oil pro­duc­tion,” Vilar told Olive Oil Times. Spain is a coun­try that is cur­rently not in its best range of olive oil pro­duc­tion, due to sev­eral rea­sons such as low per­cent­age of oil in the fruit, bad cli­matic con­di­tions, poor man­age­ment of tra­di­tional olive trees at a time of low prices and so on.”

However, Spain’s sub­stan­tial pro­duc­tion increase was par­tially bal­anced out by a sharp pro­duc­tion fall in Italy, the sec­ond-largest pro­duc­ing coun­try. This crop year, Italy pro­duced 270,000 tons, roughly as much as Greece. This year’s yield was 27 per­cent lower than the pre­vi­ous year’s and five per­cent below the rolling five-year aver­age.

That is not sur­pris­ing,” Anna Cane, pres­i­dent of the olive oil Group within the Italian Association of the Oil Industry (Assitol), told Olive Oil Times.

Italian olive farm­ing can­not cover olive oil demand,” she added. Companies require one mil­lion tons of olive oil from the agri­cul­tural sec­tor per year for both exports and the inter­nal mar­ket, quo­tas far above our national pro­duc­tion. We need imports but we also need to increase national yields.”

In a press note, the pres­i­dent of the olive oil fed­er­a­tion within the farm­ing asso­ci­a­tion Confagricoltura, Walter Placida, said that the strong reduc­tion of our yields has become endemic. We need to counter it soon with an active and prac­ti­cal approach.”

According to Cane, the Italian olive oil sec­tor must push to inno­vate, while focus­ing on the best farm­ing prac­tices and deploy­ing new tech­nolo­gies and dig­i­tal­iza­tion through­out the sec­tor.

All of this is often seen by some in the indus­try as an attack on tra­di­tion,” she said. On the con­trary, it is the best way to safe­guard our his­tory and our prod­ucts which are sur­rounded by com­peti­tors whose strengths lie in inno­va­tion and their abil­ity to act as a homoge­nous pro­duc­tion chain.”

Meanwhile, Greece expe­ri­enced only a minor pro­duc­tion drop of 1.8 per­cent com­pared with the pre­vi­ous year, but 5.8 per­cent below the rolling five-year aver­age. Portugal also expe­ri­enced a sub­stan­tial decrease, with pro­duc­tion dip­ping to 100,000 tons, 28.8 per­cent less than 2019/20 and 8.3 per­cent below the rolling five-year aver­age.

On the other side of the Mediterranean Sea, pro­duc­tion in Morocco rose to 160,000 tons, 10 per­cent higher than the pre­vi­ous year and six per­cent higher than the rolling five-year aver­age.

However, neigh­bor­ing Tunisia saw its pro­duc­tion fall to just 140,000 tons after a record har­vest in 2019/20, one-third below the rolling five-year aver­age. Production in Algeria also fell sub­stan­tially drop­ping to 90,000 tons, slightly below the rolling five-year aver­age.


On the east­ern shores of the Mediterranean, pro­duc­tion in Turkey fell slightly to 210,000 tons, just below the rolling five-year aver­age.

The down­turn in pro­duc­tion in Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal and Tunisia means that coun­tries such as the United States, Chile and Australia, which hold five per­cent of olive oil pro­duc­tion and are not IOC mem­bers, will increase their spe­cific role,” Vilar said. Out of the 67 coun­tries that pro­duce olive oil, their total olive groves area com­prise six per­cent.”

IOC mem­ber coun­tries account for 92 per­cent of the olive crop area and 93 per­cent of the total world olive oil pro­duc­tion in the last sea­son.

The IOC esti­mates that the largest olive oil mar­kets – Bari in Italy, Chania in Greece and Jaén in Spain – com­prise more than 60 per­cent of the global olive oil pro­duc­tion.

Prices in these three coun­tries, par­tic­u­larly in Spain, have an impact on other pro­duc­ing coun­tries, and mainly on the oils they intend to export,” the IOC said.

In the last 10 years, the aver­age extra vir­gin olive oil price in Jaén was €274.90 per 100 kilo­grams, while its price is now at €326.50 per 100 kilo­grams.

In Bari, the aver­age for that period was €419.10, and it is now at €460. The same trend is seen in Chania, where the aver­age in the last decade was €268.90 against the cur­rent €315 per 100 kilo­grams.

However, prices and trends of the inter­na­tional olive oil mar­ket are more and more affected by the non-IOC coun­tries’ olive oil imports.

Vilar added that even though olive oil con­sump­tion is increas­ingly pop­u­lar through­out the world because of the strong appeal of olive oil’s healthy qual­i­ties, there is room for fur­ther growth.

Of the 199 coun­tries that con­sume olive oil, the IOC coun­tries account for 86 per­cent of the demand while the non-IOC nations acquire a greater role, that is, they account for 13 per­cent of the total con­sump­tion, mainly due to the demand expe­ri­enced by the United States,” he said. The rest of the coun­tries, 156, achieved just one per­cent of the total con­sump­tion.”

According to the recent esti­mates by the United States Department of Agriculture, global olive oil con­sump­tion is expected to grow steadily, given the grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity of the prod­uct and the grow­ing prices of alter­na­tive veg­etable oils.

The European Commission also esti­mates that global olive oil con­sump­tion will increase by at least five per­cent by the end of the decade.


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