Between 1990/91 and 2014/15 world consumption of olive oil increased 1.7-fold. The most salient aspect of this trend is the regular growth of consumption in non-IOC member countries whose share of world consumption expanded from 11 pc to 24 pc between the starting and closing seasons of the reporting period
During the same time span, EU consumption (Chart 1) climbed until it topped 2 000 000 t in 2004/05 after which it gradually dropped to around 1996/97 levels (1 600 000 t). As can be seen in Chart 2, consumption is concentrated in the producing countries.
Italy has always been the biggest consumer in volume terms, but in 2006/07 its consumption started to dwindle until it fell to 520 000 t in 2014/15, the lowest level of the reporting period and on a par with consumption figures in Spain (this has to be viewed in the context of the major debate in the past on the representatively of the data that were processed).
Consumption has likewise sunk in Greece, coinciding with the years of economic crisis at home. By 2014/15 it was standing at 160 000 t, showing a 22 pc decrease over two decades. In the case of Spain, the consumption curve is more erratic although it now seems to have steadied at above 500 000 t, i.e. the same level as in Italy.
Although consumption is concentrated in these three EU countries, the Others group is noteworthy for its regular consumption growth until 2010/2011, since when it seems to have leveled off at around 300 000 t.
Chart 3 plots annual per capita consumption of olive oil in the EU countries. Despite the decrease in total Greek consumption, Greece continues to lead the ranking with 16.3 kg, followed by Spain (10.4 kg), Italy (9.2kg) and Portugal (7.1 kg); next come Cyprus and Luxembourg, with 5.5 and 5.3 kg respectively. A point to bear in mind is that there are more consumers than inhabitants in Luxembourg because of supermarket purchases by consumers from neighboring countries.
France follows at a great distance along with Malta, Croatia, Ireland and Belgium with consumption levels ranging from 1.2 to 1.7 kg. The rest of the EU members are split between countries where per capita consumption lies between 0.5 and 1kg per year (in descending order: Finland Latvia, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Slovenia, Austria, United Kingdom and Denmark) and those where it is below 0.4 kg (Romania, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Estonia and the Czech Republic).
Turning the spotlight now on the other IOC Members, consumption growth over the last 25 years has been strongest in Turkey and Morocco, where output has also risen, as well as in the Others group of countries. Because the figures plotted in Chart 4 are averages, Syrian consumption looks steady but it did in fact increase steeply although it has seen a sharp decrease in the last two seasons. Consumption in Algeria has gained whereas in Tunisia it has fallen.
In 2013, per capita consumption in this set of countries was lower than in the EU. Only Syria’s consumption is on a par with Portugal (7.0 kg) while the others record lower levels: Albania (4.7 kg), Lebanon (4.5 kg), Morocco (3.9 kg), Tunisia (3.7 kg), Jordan (3.1 kg), Israel and Libya (2.4 kg each) and Turkey (2.0 kg). Algerian consumption is much the same as in Croatia while in Montenegro it lies on a level with Germany. As for Argentina, Egypt, Iran and Iraq, their consumption lies around the levels of Hungary, Poland and Romania (see Table 1).
Among non-IOC Members, the United States has seen the most spectacular consumption growth over the last 25 years (Chart 5) although U.S. per capita consumption in 2013 was only 0.9 kg, comparable to levels in the United Kingdom and Germany. During the reporting period, total consumption likewise increased in the other non-IOC countries albeit on a much lower scale.
Chart 6 shows per capita consumption in the non-IOC countries where Palestine stands out with 3.2 kg. In the band between 1.7 and 1.1 kg lies Switzerland with 1.7kg, Australia with 1.6 kg and Canada with 1.1 kg. Further down the line are Saudi Arabia and Norway, each with 0.7 kg, and the rest of the countries with lower figures.
The snapshot that emerges is that there would still appear to be room for consumption growth in the leading importing countries like the United States, Brazil and Japan. Per capita consumption in China lies at the bottom of the ranking table but at this point in time future consumption in China appears to be more dependent on national regulations than anything else.