The International Olive Council released figures today showing olive oil imports into China increased by 60 percent for the 2009/2010 season for a total of 20,565 tons, 89 percent of it coming from Europe. Spain was the main supplier (42 percent), followed by Italy (39 percent), Greece (7 percent) and Portugal (1 percent). Other exporters to China were Syria (4 percent), Australia (3 percent) and Turkey (2 percent).
Extra virgin olive oil accounted for 76 percent of China’s import volume in the period, followed by refined olive oil and olive pomace oil with equal 12% shares.
Russia imported nearly 25,000 tons of olive oil in 2009/10, for an increase of 50 percent on the previous season. 93 percent of imports were from EU countries, the principal suppliers being Spain (62 percent), Italy (25 percent) and Greece (6 percent). The shares of Tunisia and Turkey were 4% and 3%, respectively. The breakdown by product category for 2009/10 shows shares of 62 percent for extra virgin, 28 percent for refined and 10 percent for olive pomace oil.
India only imported 3,374 tons of olive oil, for an increase of 26 percent. Most (60 percent) was supplied by Spain with 34 percent from Italy. Turkey accounted for 5 percent of India’s imports. Extra virgin accounted for only 19 percent; the remaining 81 percent was refined olive oil.
Over the first three cumulative months of the season (October – December) olive oil imports rose 20 percent in Australia and 11 percent into the United States. In Japan imports dropped 7 percent from the same period a year ago.
Olive oil prices dropped 8 percent in Spain compared with the previous year to €2.01/kg, and 4 percent in Greece (€1.95/kg) while in Italy they moved in the opposite direction, going up by 14 percent to €3.07/kg. Recent weeks have seen a steep rise in prices in Italy confirming, the IOC said, the growing distance between the prices paid to producers in Italy and those paid in Spain and Greece.
Is your olive oil blended with pomace oil (Yuck!)? Or are you using the real thing, produced in Sicily?
As a result of plunging olive oil prices growers in Spain are gearing up for protests which could disrupt one of the country’s most import farm production sectors. The leading Spanish farm COAG union estimated that average farm-gate prices last month were €1.85 per kilo, compared to costs of €2.49 last year and that Spain’s olive farmers have accrued losses of €1.9 billion in the past three seasons. Their solution? They want the government to purchase and store large quantities of olive oil until prices pick up. Further complicating the problem, Spain’s Small Farmers’ Union (UPA) has called for a food marker on olive pomace oil in order to prevent fraud. The union is worried that some producers might mix olive oil with pomace oil in order to make up for the fall in prices of virgin olive oil.
UPA Andalusia Regional Secretary Agustín Rodríguez said while the practice is banned in Spain, some packers may be tempted to mix the oils in order to “minimize the continuing losses in a market in which generic brands are eating away at brand olive oil”. He said the “scandalously” low price of olive oil makes it difficult to compete and there is a risk of an increase in practices that go against the quality of the product.
Well there’s a surprise! (Not.) Newsflash: most of them already do, which is one reason for the ever-continuing downward pressure on price. Producer A blends his oil to undercut the competition, so Producers B, C, D follow suit in order to stay competitive. Soon the entire Spanish market is blended gunk, producers are selling at a loss, and everyone is begging for a handout from the European Union during a global “recession.”
The truth is that if someone wants real olive oil, he wants Sicilian olive oil. 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil made from first-pressed, old-stone-pressed Sicilian olives picked no more than 12 hours prior to this extraction. That’s what we produce and sell at Mamamiafoods. We’ve been doing precisely this for hundreds of years — we have olive trees in our groves which have been producing the highest quality olives for 800 years! It’s hard to compete with Sicily in olive oil production without cheating (blending) as you can see from this news. Have you had your dose of healthy Sicilian olive oil today?
What is going on in Turkey?
A staggering decline in Turkey’s olive oil exports has lead to a battle between the Aegean Olive and Olive Oil Exporters’ Union and the National Olive and Olive Oil Council (UZZK). The union’s board levied this charge at UZZK Chairman Mustafa Tan in a press release: “The branded olive oil export between Nov. 1 and Feb. 28 was 4,475 tons. The figures were 7,377 tons in the same period last year. Apparently the branded olive oil export is slashed at 40 percent, and our board finds UZZK Chairman Mustafa Tan’s declaration concerning the export figures groundless.”
To get an idea of how bad the situation appears to be, Turkey exported a total of 92,228 tons of olive oil in the 2004-2005 season but only exported 23,199 tons by the end of 2009-2010 season or about a 70% decline! Staggering, indeed, if these numbers are correct. More on this story here.