Posted on: 23 March 2016 By: TeamEuropages


In the last 50 years, global olive oil production and consumption have tripled, increasing from 1 to 3 million tonnes. Europe is a key player in this market since it is home to the world’s leading producer – Spain, and the world’s leading consumer – Greece. Faced with the fall in European production as a result of poor climate conditions, Tunisia became the world’s leading exporter in 2015.

Half of the world’s olive-growing “orchard” lies within the EU. Worldwide, olive trees occupy a total surface area of approximately 11 million cultivated hectares, with almost
1.5 million trees. According to the Association française interprofessionnelle de l’olive (French inter-branch olive association), the European Union accounts for 50% of this “orchard”. North Africa represents 25%, the Middle East 20%, with the rest shared among the Americas (California, Chile, Argentina, etc.), Australia and China.

In terms of olive oil consumption per capital and per year, Greece remains the champion, despite a recent reduction, at 23.1 litres, followed by Spain (14 l), Italy (12 l) and Portugal (9 l). Consumption of olive oil by other producing countries is lower: 5 l for Tunisia, 2 l for Morocco. Concerning consumption among non-producing countries, we can observe the United States (0.7 l), Belgium (1.4 l) and Luxembourg (3 l). Consumption in France has increased to 2 litres per capital per year.

Spain, a giant in this sector. Spain alone supplies a whopping 45% of global demand, making it the market’s leader ahead of Italy. Searches run by Europages visitors in France corroborate this trend in 2015, with two countries standing head and shoulders above the rest: Spain and Italy. Having said that, Spain had to contend with a drop in its production in 2014 and 2015 due to poor climate conditions (summer droughts, warm winters). To maintain its market share, Spain imported oil, mainly from Tunisia, which it then re-exported outside the EU. As a result, Tunisia managed to quadruple its production, making it the sector’s leading exporter for the 2014/15 season.

Tunisia, the world’s leading exporter. According to figures provided by the International Olive Council (see the December 2015 bulletin), EU countries, spearheaded by Spain and Italy, imported huge amounts of olive oil (+311%) during the first 11 months of the 2014/2015 season to make up for their fall in production.

The main country to benefit from this turn of events was Tunisia, which enjoyed an increase in its exports of 1070% to Spain and 329% to Italy. For its part, the intra-community market remains strong, exceeding 1 million tonnes. It is essentially structured around Spain, which generates a volume available for exports to third countries and for intra-community deliveries of more than 900,000 tonnes, barring climatic aberrations as in 2012/2013.

To find customers and/or suppliers in this sector, visit Europages, section “Olive Oil”, sector “Food Processing”. And if your company works in this sector, you may want to register with Europages!

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