The conclusion of the European Union’s tendering scheme to rebalance its olive oil sector resulted in the withdrawal of another 41,600 tonnes of olive oil from the European market, Olive Oil Times reported on 28 February.

In the fourth and final tendering procedure, subsidies of €0.83 (US$0.91) tonne/day had been granted to operators from Spain, Italy and Portugal to keep their oils in storage for 180 days.

As a result, another 213,500 tonnes of olive oil – about 27% of current European Union (EU) stocks - had been removed from the market, reported Olive Oil Times.

The majority of tender offers had been made by Spanish operators due to the country’s current market conditions, according to a European Commission (EC) press release, while the third tender series had been the most successful accounting for almost half of the olive oil being withdrawn.

Expressing optimism about the recovery of olive oil prices in Europe, the EU commissioner for agriculture and rural development Janusz Wojciechowski, said: “After months of market imbalance, I’m proud to see the last tendering under the private storage aid scheme for olive oil conclude on a positive note.

“It is too early to see the full impact of the support measure, but the first signs of price recovery are already visible.”

Sources within the EC told Olive Oil Times that the objective of the private storage measure had not been to compensate some operators for market losses but to stabilise the EU market by withdrawing a large enough volume of olive oil until a return to acceptable market prices.

Although signs of improvement existed, the EC said more time was needed before any substantial effect on prices was seen.