The world olive oil sector generates a turnover between 6 500 and 11 000 million euros per crop year and provides a livelihood for more 30 million people in 7 million households. Olives are grown on 11 million hectares of land in 47 producer countries dotted across the five continents.
At present, olive oil is consumed in more than 160 countries.
According to the data for the 2012 crop year, 3.1 million tonnes of olive oil are produced and consumed compared with 184 million tonnes of all edible oils and fats, of which 24 million are of animal origin. Put differently, olive oil accounts for 1.7 pc of all edible vegetable and animal fats.
These figures show that world olive oil production is a strategic economic sector and an influential player in the international arena. It is also a sector where production and consumption have their own idiosyncratic characteristics.
The objective of the five-part study has been to ascertain the cost of producing one kilogram of virgin olive oil, expressed in euros, in different olive cultivation systems. The first part deals with the methodology and covers the analysis of the different cultivation systems proposed, the preparation of the survey questionnaires, the analysis of the results and other aspects. A description is then given of olive oil production in the participant countries in the study on the basis of a series of figures permitting a comprehensive sectoral diagnosis.
The first step was to classify world olive growing into seven different cultivation systems:
S1: Traditional rainfed on steep slopes
S2: Traditional irrigated on steep slopes
S3: Traditional rainfed on moderate slopes
S4: Traditional irrigated on moderate slopes
S5: Intensive rainfed
S6: Intensive irrigated
S7: Superintensive irrigated