EU olive oil exports projected to reach record high

EU olive oil exports is set to rise by 11% to a record high of 625,000 tonnes in the 2018/19 season, with production expected to grow by 3%, according to an April 2019 report from the European Commission (EC).

The EC’s ‘Short-Term Outlook for EU Agricultural Markets in 2018 and 2019’ report projected that an increase in EU olive oil production, combined with rising world demand and a decline in supply among non-EU producers, would result in record high EU exports, Olive Oil Times wrote.

The 625,000 tonnes of projected exports compares to 563,400 tonnes of EU olive oil exports in 2017/18.

Provisional figures also put the EU’s 2018/19 olive oil production at an estimated 2.101M tonnes, compared to 2.186M tonnes for 2017/18.

Spain’s second highest production since 2003 would contribute the most to the EU’s 3% production increase, said the report. The country – which is the world’s highest producer of olive oil – produced 1.7M tonnes in 2018/19, up from 1.39M tonnes the previous season, Olive Oil Times reported.

In contrast, Italy and Greece suffered poor harvests mostly due to harsh weather in late 2018.

Italy was expected to produce just 226,000 tonnes of olive oil for 2018/19, a 57% fall compared with the previous year, while Greece would produce 248,000 tonnes, and Portugal 121,300 tonnes, falls of 35% and 20% respectively, Olive Oil Times wrote in January.

The EC report pointed out that the supply increase would affect prices. In February 2019, the average price of olive oil in the EU was around €290/100kg (US$326), 17% below the previous year.

Furthermore, EU olive oil imports were expected to fall 50% in 2018/19, compared with the previous year.

Production was expected to fall for 2019/20 due to insufficient rainfall in the first few months of 2019 in Portugal, northern Italy, southern France and Spain, the report said.

The EU is the world’s leading producer of olive oil, producing 67% of the world’s olive oil between 2012 to 2017, according to Olive Oil Times.

The bloc was also the highest consumer of the product, consuming around 1.5-1.6M tonnes/year.