Olive Oil Update 2012

An Expert's View about Oleaginous Fruits (seeds, nuts and fruits used to make oil) in Greece

Posted on: 29 Dec 2012

Greece is the third largest olive oil producer in the world behind Spain and Italy.

THIS REPORT CONTAINS ASSESSMENTS OF COMMODITY AND TRADE ISSUES MADE BY USDA STAFF AND NOT NECESSARILY STATEMENTS OF OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT POLICY Voluntary Public - Date: 10/21/2012 GAIN Report Number: GR1215 Greece Post: Rome Olive Oil Update 2012 Report Categories: Oilseeds and Products Approved By: Christine Sloop Prepared By: Ornella Bettini Report Highlights: Greece is the third largest olive oil producer in the world behind Spain and Italy. According to industry contacts, MY 2012/13 (November/October) Greek olive oil production is forecast to increase slightly if weather remains stable. More than 80 percent of the Greek annual production is extra virgin olive oil. Per capita consumption of olive oil in Greece (20 Kg/year) is one of the highest in the world. Ninety percent of Greek olive oil is exported to the European Union: 80 percent in bulk and 10 percent under Greek brand names. Olive Oil Production, Supply, and Demand (MT) 2010 2011 2012 mates Forecast Olive Oil Estimates Esti 2010/2011 2011/2012 2012/2013 Post Data Post Data Post Data Trees (Mln) 150 150 150 Beginning Stocks 108 98 112 Production 300 310 310 Extra EU-27 Imports 0 0 0 Total Supply 408 408 422 Extra EU-27 Exports 13 13 13 Food Use 223 208 210 Dom. Consumption 223 208 210 Ending Stocks 98 112 108 Total Distribution 334 333 331 Source: Unofficial estimates based on Greek industry; GTA (Global Trade Atlas) Production Greece is the third largest olive oil producer in the world behind Spain and Italy. According to industry contacts, MY 2012/13 (November/October) Greek olive oil production is forecast to remain steady if weather remains stable. Greece’s olive oil production capacity is estimated at 400,000 MT per year. However, during the last three crop-years, Greece has registered a considerable drop in the annual production at around 300,000 MT, due mainly to adverse weather. MY 2011/12 olive oil crop has been negatively affected ―in terms of quantity― by the freezing weather of March 2011. Greece devotes 60 percent of its cultivated land to olive growing. There are near 520,000 olive growers, of which 50.5 percent are professional farmers. The large number of olive growers in relation to the cultivated land (1,200,000 hectares) reveals that there is no large-scale industrialized olive farming. This means that olive cultivation ―although systematic and much improved by the application of recent technological developments and scientific progress― remains a “family affair.” Olive oil production is scattered all over the country, even though the Peloponnese and Crete account for over 65 percent of the total output. “Koroneiki” is the major olive variety grown in Greece. It originates from the area of Korone in Messenia (Peloponnese) and is grown on the island of Crete and around the Mediterranean. “Koroneiki” olives have a very small size, a fruity flavor, and produce a high quality olive oil, with a unique smooth taste and a golden-green color. Other prominent olive varieties for the production of olive oil include: “Lianolia”, “Konservolia”, “Tsounati”, “Megaritiki”, “Valanolia”, “Andramytini”, “Chalkidiki”, “Matolia”, and “Kalamon”. Intensive cultivation and a perfect climate play a significant role in the high quality of the oil produced. Olive trees are slow to grow, taking four to five years to yield their first fruits and another 10 to 15 to reach their full capacity. Olive harvest occurs from October to January ―depending on autumn rainfall― and may even go on into February. Farmers regularly tend small groves of trees in remote areas; olives are handpicked, and the crop is pressed on the day of picking. Product quality is usually very high: in a good year, the percentage of low acidity olive oils with excellent organoleptic characteristics can go as high as 80 percent. In average years it fluctuates between 65-70 percent. Consumption Per capita consumption of olive oil in Greece (20 Kg/year) is one of the highest in the world. Olive oil is the main fat used in Greek cooking. It is also perceived to be the healthiest one. Despite the reduction of consumers’ disposable income ―as a consequence of the economic crisis―, Greek consumption of olive oil remains steady. Sales of cheaper private label (brand names owned by S/M chains) olive oils are following an upward trend, accounting for about 27 percent of the total volume sales through the major S/M chains. Standardized oil with a high retail price (around €6 per liter) had a remarkably big decline in demand during MY 2011/12, because of competition from the cheaper bulk olive oil. Trade Ninety percent of Greek olive oil is exported to the European Union: 80 percent in bulk and 10 percent under Greek brand names. Italy continues to be the main destination for Greek olive oil. Greece’s olive oil exports to third countries (the United States, Canada, Russia, China, and Australia) are not expected to grow, as demand for this high-priced vegetable oil remains weak while ample supplies of alternative oils are available. Greece imports small quantities of olive oil from Spain and Italy. Abbreviations and definitions used in this report MY Marketing year: November/October HS codes: 15091010; 15091090; 15099000 MT Metric ton = 1,000 kg
Posted: 29 December 2012

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