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. 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.
As to the trend of US imports through the last 24 crop years, 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.
Since July 2013, the Foreign Agricultural Service of the United States Department of Agriculture has been using a new customs nomenclature for virgin olive oils (heading 150910) providing more itemised differentiation between the different types of oil. The category previously listed under heading 1509102000 (virgin olive oil, in containers 18 kg.
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). The remaining 15 pc (48 432.3 t) was imported in bulk, i.e. in containers > 18 kg. 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.
Source: International Olive Council