During the 25 years between the 1990/91 and 2015/16 seasons, world consumption of table olives increased 2.8 times (+173 pc). Chart 1 shows how it has climbed constantly over the years, hitting its highest level in 2015/16. The biggest rises have been in the member countries of the IOC – also the top producers –, often in tandem with increases in production. This is particularly the case of countries like Egypt, which consumed 11 000 t in 1990/91 and now consumes 360 000 t in 2015/16; Turkey, where consumption has shot up from 110 000 t to 327 500 t and Algeria where it has soared from 14 000 t to 231 500 t. Table olive consumption has increased in the other countries too, but to a smaller extent. In 2015/16, the world’s top ten consumers were Egypt, Turkey, Algeria, the United States, Spain, Syria, Italy, Brazil, Iran, France and Russia.
Chart 2 looks at annual per capita consumption of table olives in the IOC member countries in 2013/14. Albania leads the league with a total consumption of 29 000 t for a population of barely 2 895 000, which gives a per capita consumption of 10 kg. Much further down the line come Algeria with 5 kg/capita/year, Turkey, Syria and Lebanon with between 4.7 and 4.4 kg/year, Egypt (3.8 kg), Jordan, Israel and Libya (between 2.6 and 2.2 kg), and Tunisia, Uruguay and Morocco (1.9–1 kg). Annual per capita consumption in the other countries was less than 1 kg (Argentina, Iran and Iraq, listed in descending order).
Chart 1: Trend of world table olive consumption (000 tonnes)
Chart 2: Annual per capita table olive consumption (kg) in IOC member countries in 2014
Looking at the countries in the European Union, we find that table olive consumption has risen by 70.6 pc, going up from 346 400 t in 1990/91 to 591 000 t in 2015/16. Spain is the top producer and consumer (Chart 3) and has an annual per capita consumption of 3.5 kg. Cyprus comes next (3.1 kg), followed by Malta (3 kg) and Italy (2 kg), and then Bulgaria, Luxembourg, Greece and Romania (1.6–1 kg). The inhabitants of France, Sweden, Belgium, Portugal, United Kingdom, Austria, Croatia, Denmark and Germany eat between 0.9 and 0.5 kg of olives per year while those in Lithuania, Finland, Slovenia, Ireland, Slovakia, Latvia, Poland, Estonia, Czech Republic, Hungary and the Netherlands consume less than 0.4 kg/year.
Chart 3: Annual per capita table olive consumption (kg) in EU countries in 2014
In the non-IOC member countries, annual consumption of table olives in 2014 (Chart 4) oscillated between 2.9 and 0.9 kg, with Palestine in the lead, and Chile, Saudi Arabia, Peru and Australia next in line (these five countries are also producers). At a distance follow Canada and Switzerland with 0.8 kg each, Brazil and Russia with between 0.6 and 0.5 kg, and Mexico and the United States with 0.1 kg.
Chart 4 – Annual per capita table olive consumption (kg) in non-IOC member countries in 2014
Photo by Luigi Caricato