Extra Virgin Olive Oil – The Message Is Getting Through!

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How growing awareness of the health benefits of best olive oil – extra virgin olive oil – and a healthy Mediterranean diet is getting through to health conscious food lovers.

Healthy Mediterranean Diet
Healthy Mediterranean Diet

Olive Oil Consumption Is On The Rise

Recent data from the International Olive Council (IOC data) indicate show that global olive oil consumption has exceeded olive oil production during the last three crop years. The IOC also emphasized how it is the first time that such a trend has been reported for three consecutive years.

“The data) shows how consumption reflects changes in consumer lifestyles. Covid-19 has changed our behavior, and consumers have shifted to purchasing better quality products”

Abdellatif Ghedira, executive director, IOC

The IOC forecasts for production and consumption in member countries, global olive oil consumption in the current season are expected to reach 3.215 million tons compared with a total production of 3.1 million tons.

“Although globally stable during the last two crop years, consumption has not been affected by this slight drop in production,” the IOC said.

According to Abdellatif Ghedira, the IOC executive director, the figures demonstrate an emerging trend.

“It shows how consumption reflects changes in consumer lifestyles,” Ghedira said. Covid-19 has changed our behaviour, and consumers have shifted to purchasing better quality products, which has also led to an increase in the value of trade globally.”

The IOC data also show the steady growth in olive oil consumption in non-member countries.

Olive Oil Consumption In The USA

For example, between 1990/91 and 2019/20, olive oil consumption in the USA grew from 88,000 tons to 400,000 tons. Currently, the U.S. is the largest olive oil importer outside of Europe, with more than 400,000 tons expected in the current season.

According to data from the International Olive Council, U.S. consumption is expected to reach 357,000 tons in the current 2020/21 crop year. If their estimate is correct, it would be the second-highest total, just behind last year’s record-high of 399,500 tons.

Since the 2008/09 crop year, the U.S. has been the third-largest global consumer of olive oil, behind Italy and Spain. Consequently, it is a carefully-watched market by producers, bottlers and exporters.

While most U.S. olive oil consumption comes in the form of bulk imports of blended, non-virgin oils destined for the restaurant, hospitality and food manufacturing sectors, evidence suggests the extra virgin olive oil category continues to grow.

Growing health concerns, specifically around the immune system, have led to a resurgent interest in healthy extra virgin olive oil from individual consumers. This trend is expected to continue.

Olive Oil Growth : The View From The European Union

Producers will benefit from a steady increase in consumer awareness about olive oil’s health benefits coupled with the growing popularity of the healthy Mediterranean diet in the next 10 years, European Union officials predict.

In the bloc’s 2022 – 2032 medium-term outlook, the E.U. agriculture and rural development department also analyzed how the growth of the olive oil market would impact competing vegetable oil markets.

“Olive oil is expected to increasingly replace vegetable oils in food consumption particularly outside the main producing countries, driven by a healthy image of olive oil, and an increasing popularity of the various Mediterranean cuisines,” officials wrote in the outlook.

“This trend is expected to contribute to the decline in demand for vegetable oils and to affect butter consumption, especially in home cooking and food services,” they added.

According to The Olive Oil Times, officials predict that the growing demand for olive oil will also continue to foster the expansion of olive growing in the main producing countries.

Many other E.U. countries with little or no history of consuming olive oil have also seen consumption rise significantly since 1991/92. For example, consumption in Poland went from 3,200 tons in 2003/04 to 12,000 tons in 2021/22.

In three decades, olive oil consumption in non-producing countries in the E.U. has increased from 21,400 to 162,700 tons. In the same period, non-producing countries outside the European Union have seen their olive oil consumption grow fourfold, from 246,000 to 1.1 million tons.

In the next decade, E.U. officials predict that demand for vegetable oils will be significantly affected by biodiesel production, especially rapeseed oil.

As a result, they anticipate the sunflower oil market to grow only in Hungary and Germany, with demand stagnating across the rest of the European Union.

The officials said the decrease may happen “because of consumer preferences shifting toward more healthy oils, especially in France.” Other than olive oil, demand for soybean oil is also expected to increase.

They predicted that vegetable oil consumption would decline from an average of 22.1 million tons between 2020 and 2022 to 21.2 million in 2032 as other edible oils replace them and biofuel demand diminishes.