Poor harvests in the southern European producer countries and growing demand in key markets boosted olive oil imports from less prominent producers in 2017, according to an Olive Oil Times report on 30 January.

Rising demand, particularly in Brazil and the USA, was boosting exports outside EU, with other destinations including Canada, Chile, Mexico and Spain, the world’s largest olive oil producer.

“The increase in exports in 2017 was, in part, due to the low harvest in 2016 in Spain of fruit destined for the production of olive oil,” said José Luis Simone, head of Olivicole Simone.

Olivicola Simone is an olive oil producer based in the Argentine province of Mendoza, where olive oil sales increased by more than 100% from 2016 to 2017, growing from around 5,000 tonnes in 2016 to 10,000 tonnes last year.

The value of the exports increased as well, reaching US$3,900/tonne in 2017 against the US$3,400 tonnes in 2016.

In addition to the market situation, Simone attributed the growth to improved oil quality which, combined with the growing demand in North America, spelled a promising future for Mendoza’s producers.

However, Nicolás Piazza, head of international negotiations at trade group ProMendoza, urged caution and warned that future demand for olive oil would not be dictated by better oil quality alone.

“When these variations in exports occur, it is due in part to the harvests, but also has to do with the performance of international markets,” Piazza told Olive Oil Times.