Olive Oil Guide

Olive Oil
Published Aug 30, 2021

Market Penetration Strategy

What kinds of issues and challenges are rising?

The price of Spanish olive oil keeps increasing due to the low supply of extra virgin olive oil. Prices of Portuguese and Turkish olive oil are also attractive, but nothing is cheaper than Spanish olive oil. Despite US setting import tariffs on EU products starting July 2020, there is no change in demand in the US after the tariff barrier, but the suppliers expect less production this year.

What is the SWOT analysis for Spain Olive Oil?

The chart below shows the SWOT analysis for the Spanish olive oil market including its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Production Supply Chain

How is the supply chain formed?

Spanish oil mills hire brokers to commercialize the products to refineries. Additionally, logistic platforms are used by producers and refineries to commercialize the products as well. These wholesale markets are generally run by distributors. As of now, 86% of total olive oil production is commercialized by hyper and supermarket chains. On a smaller scale, individual retailers establish operations in order to commercialize products directly to consumers.

Regarding storage methods, olive oil is typically stored in complete darkness, regulated at 20 degrees Celsius. When it is bottled for commercialization, it also cannot be exposed to sunlight for more than 12 hours a day. EVOOs are specifically commercialized within six months of being stored in tanks in order to maintain acceptable quality.

How is the supplier network?

Most of the time, producers do not have their own packing houses. The middlemen in the process are traders/exporters and producers / hypermarkets-supermarkets such as Carrefour. For the extra virgin(best quality), the acidity level should be a maximum of 0-8%; the lower level is called virgin olive oil. Depending on the acidity level, the levels are categorized as extra virgin - virgin - pure. Commonly used olives for oils are picual(main olive), ojiblanca/ cornicabra / arbequina olive. If the oil is preserved in the right condition, it can be stored for a year.

Seasonality of Main Producing Regions

Which countries are the major producers of olive oil?

As of 2017, over 96.8% of olive oil production is centered across Mediterranean countries, with around 62% of total production specifically being within the EU. The top five producers of olive oil in order are Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, and Morocco. The USDA predicted that the overall production of olive oil would enter its third consecutive year of decline in the 2020-21 period, lowering from 3.12M MT in 2019-20 to 3.03M MT. However, most of this decline is primarily associated with the producer's Turkey and Tunisia, who together comprise 14.4% of global production and are both predicted to have off years for olive oil. Tunisia specifically is expected to have a 35% decrease compared to the previous season. EU countries will likely reflect similar production yields as the already disappointing 2018-19 season according to the USDA.

Where are the main producing regions?

Andalucia, Jaen is the main producing region for Spanish Olive Oil.

What is the most popular and most-traded grade of olive oil?

Extra Virgin Olive Oil, or EVOO, is the most well-known type of olive oil. It is characterized by not containing any additives or preservatives. Commonly used in seasonings and salads, extra virgin olive oils are subject to higher scrutiny during the producing process.

Trade Overview

Which markets are the fastest growing suppliers of olive oil?

While even top exporters like Spain and Tunisia have seen some significant growths between 2010 and 2019, the two countries that have grown the most during that time are Turkey and Syria. In 2010, the countries held export values of around USD 64M each. In 2019, both countries exceeded the USD 100M line, increasing by about 60 percent each. Turkey in particular, during peak seasons, reached export values that exceeded USD 200M. In 2013, both countries almost reached an export value of USD 300M, which would have been a 360 percent increase. These two countries are also growing as increasingly popular destinations for olive oil re-export from suppliers in the rest of the Mediterranean, particularly those that are members of the EU.

Where are the main importing countries?

Portugal and Italy are the main importing countries and also the top producing countries in the world. Demand in the US, UK, and Japan is rising.

The demand in India is increasing right now, and buyers want the product at a very cheap price. Because of the price, the buyers from India tend to purchase the olive oils from last year(shelf life is 2 years) - which are likely to be less fresh than this year - at cheaper prices.

Which markets are the fastest growing buyers of olive oil?

Several markets have started to import more olive oil in the past decade. Spain, Japan, China, and Saudi Arabia are among the biggest growing markets. Due to increased demand in consumption, imports increased by 210%, 60.7%, 110%, and 169% respectively. In 2015, Spanish demand for olive oil reached even as high as USD 620M, which is a 428% difference from 2010 numbers.

International Logistics

How is the international logistic process like for Spanish olive oil?

Most of the olive oil products are sent through sea freight, in reefer containers, and only small batches are sent through the air. For destinations within the EU, land transportation through trucks can be used to lessen logistics cost. The product is placed in pallets and loaded to the containers. It is vital to maintain the right temperature and avoid product's direct exposure to sunlight. Otherwise, the quality of olive oils may be affected. This is also the reason why olive oil bottles are dark.


What is the industry norm packaging for Spanish olive oil?

There are three types of packaging, glass bottle, tin bottle, and PET bottles. Commonly PET and glass bottles are used and PET bottle is the cheapest among the packaging options. For tin bottles, suppliers print labels to the bottle directly. Buyers prefer glass bottles over plastic bottles, and usually, glass oil has better quality than plastic bottles.

Required Documents

What kind of regulation or requirements are applied?

There are no special regulations regarding olive oil export wherein only the acidity analysis on the olive oil is required when exporting, and the analysis will not differ too much across the batches. However, there are labeling requirements, it must mention the name of the category: (extra virgin, virgin, olive oil composed of refined olive oils and virgin olive oils, olive-pomace oil) and must mention specific characteristics. Also, if there is a specific geographical indication: PDO (Protected designation of origin), PGI (Protected geographical indication), it must be included and mention origin.

Quality Control/Certification

How is the quality being checked?

The quality of Spanish olive oil depends on the acidity, and exporters ask for the acidity analysis which should be below 0.8 to meet the standard of “Extra Virgin”. The acidity analysis could be done by a third party - such as an inspection institute, or via an in-house facility.

What kinds of certificates are needed?

There are required licenses/certificates. Those are Phytosanitary Certificate, the expiry date for products not less than 2 years remaining, Health certificate, Analyses certificate, Certificate of origin issued by the chamber of commerce.

What regulations are olive oils subject to when processed for export?

Olive oil typically must go through similar tests as other commerce, such as for sanitation, in order to be considered acceptable for export and import. These certificates include a phytosanitary certificate, a certificate of origin issued by the Chamber of Commerce, an analysis certificate, and a health certificate. The expiration date for products must also not be less than two years remaining.

General Product Introduction

What was the export trend of olive oil looked like in Spain?

The table below shows the export trend of Spanish virgin olive oil. Spanish olive oil has seen a decreasing trend in total export value since 2017; export value decreased from USD 4.1B in 2017 to USD 3.2 B in 2021. The largest importer of Spanish virgin olive oil is Italy, with an import value of USD 775.2M. Italy is followed by the United States, Portugal, and France. 

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