Spotlight on Olive Oil imports by the United States in 2013/14

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At the close of the 2013/14 crop year, imports by the United States, the world’s top importer of olive oil, totalled 312 557.80 t and were 5 pc higher than in 2012/13.

Table 1 itemises US imports by country of origin. As can be seen, EU countries recorded a 15-point gain in their share of the US total, which went up from 71 pc in 2012/13 to 86 pc in 2013/2014 driven by high production in Spain.

Accounting for 44 pc of total US imports, Italy is still the lead supplier although it has lost ground in volume and percentage terms.

Spain lies in second place (40 pc). For the reason already explained, Spanish exports to the US soared by 111 pc in volume terms and by 20 points in percentage terms.

Greece, on the other hand, had a bad harvest in 2013/14; as a result, its market share narrowed by 0.7 points versus 2012/13 and lies at a very low level of 1.8 pc.

By volume, Tunisia is the third biggest supplier of the US market, although with only a 5 pc share in 2013/14 (7 points down on 2012/13) because of its small harvest.

Argentina is next in fourth position (2.8 pc), followed by Turkey and Chile, which together with the other countries listed make up the rest of US imports.

Chart I plots the trend of US imports through the last 24 crop years. To sum up, the biggest change in 2013/14 has been Spain’s sharp gain in market share, probably prompted by the steep increase in Spanish production that season and the growing demand for bulk imports (this aspect is reported in the next section and will be dealt with in detail in the next issue).

According to the customs data and categories reported for 2013/14, extra virgin olive oil was the top category and therefore the one in greatest demand.

With a volume of 153 200.7 t, it accounted for 49 pc of the total, 34 pc of which was imported in containers under 18 kg (104 768.4 t) (see Chart I).

The remaining 15 pc (48 432.3 t) was imported in bulk, i.e. in containers > 18 kg (Chart II).

Organic extra virgin olive oil cornered 11 pc (34 470.0 t) of total imports, of which 7 pc (20 683.9 t) was packed and 4 pc (13 786.4 t) was bulk.

Virgin olive oil took a 4 pc share (10 875.3 t) of the total and was almost all delivered in containers > 18 kg.

Organic virgin olive oil accounted for only 1 pc of the total. Charts I and II show the imports of the different categories of virgin olive oil by type of container.

There has been no change in the reporting format of the other categories of oil (olive oil under 150990 and olive pomace oil under 151000).

Source: International Olive Council – Newsletter N89

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