Italian olive oil producers may be better prepared this year to compete with leading producer countries such as Spain this year, helped by higher volumes and good quality. According to forecasts by the International Olive Council, production in Italy is expected to increase 76% to 320,000 tons in the current season compared with the weaker 2016/17 harvest year. Spain will instead see a 15% decrease to around 1.09 million tons, which still confirms it a leading force. Greece will follow with 300,000 tons (up 54%), and Portugal with 78,800 tons (up 14%), according to the IOC.
United States is a top destination market for Italy with exports rising 3% to 531 million dollars in the first 11 months of 2017, according to the latest available data by the Italian Trade Agency in the US (ICE)
Italian output to outpace global growth
Globally, olive oil production in 2017/18 is expected to rise 14% at around 2 894 000 tons. We expect higher production in Italy compared with the previous season, but Spain remains dominant in terms of volumes, said Marco de Ceglie, the US CEO of Salov group, which owns the Tuscan olive oil brand Filippo Berio. Italy is the top main supplier of olive oil in bottled containers to the United States, which is the first global importer of olive oil, according to the IOC. Italy is followed by Spain, Greece, Tunisia and Turkey. Spain on the other end is the first supplier to the US in terms of volumes and dominates the bulk market. But it is also gaining ground in the bottled container sector, according to official data. This represents a challenge for Italian producers in the United States, a top destination market for Italy with exports rising 3% to 531 million dollars in the first 11 months of 2017, according to the latest available data by the Italian Trade Agency in the US (ICE).
Price competition vs quality
The problem is that there are many private labels in America, with average quality at low price, said de Ceglie, who also sits on the executive board of the North American Olive Oil Association, a trade association of importers of olive oil in the United States. Another Italian issue is the fragmentation between production and distribution, the top manager told Italianfood.net.
More Americans opting for evo oil in their diet
The United States imported less olive oil last crop year, reporting a 4% decrease to 316,758 tons, according to the IOC. Domestic competition in the United States for foreign producers comes especially from California. Italian producers, with support from the Italian Trade Association, are redoubling their efforts this year to promote a correct knowledge of certified olive oil from Italy and its healthy natural properties. An increasing number of Americans are opting for a diet based on extra virgin olive oil, the IOC said in its newsletter, citing the results of the campaign ‘The Olive Oil Promise’ it launched in the US market.