As EVOO Consumption Remains Strong in Italy, Producers Hope Prices Follow

A survey showed that 80 percent of Italians habitually buy extra virgin olive oil. Strong domestic consumption paired with poor harvests in Europe could lead to a rebound in prices.
Oct. 15, 2020
Paolo DeAndreis

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Nearly 80 per­cent of con­sumers in Italy habit­u­ally buy extra vir­gin olive oil for domes­tic use, accord­ing to the lat­est sur­vey con­ducted by Ismea, the insti­tute of ser­vices for the agri­cul­tural and food mar­ket.

The results of the sur­vey, which were pub­lished by the Italian news orga­ni­za­tion, Ansa, con­firm the endur­ing appeal of extra vir­gin olive oil among Italian con­sumers.

The rel­e­vant col­lapse in quan­tity ends in a very high qual­ity olive oil and this should help bring up the prices, a price recov­ery after the poor per­for­mance last year.- Saverio Muraglia, pres­i­dent, Coldiretti Puglia

The sur­vey, which was car­ried out online using a sam­ple of 2,500 Italian fam­i­lies con­sid­ered rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Italian soci­ety, also revealed that nearly 9.6 per­cent of respon­dents buy non-vir­gin olive oil for house­hold use, while 0.2 per­cent turn to olive pomace oil.

While 84 per­cent of all olive oil is bought in the super­mar­kets, a grow­ing num­ber of con­sumers – 16 per­cent – buy their olive oil from local pro­duc­ers.

See Also:Demand for Extra Virgin Drives Olive Oil Sales in Spain

This chang­ing trend should not come as a sur­prise, how­ever, given that another recent Ismea sur­vey demon­strated that the share of fam­i­lies buy­ing agri­cul­tural prod­ucts directly from farm­ers has grown by five per­cent in 2020.

After a decade of steady decline, over­all olive oil con­sump­tion in Italy also appears to be rebound­ing.


According to data from the International Olive Council, con­sump­tion reached 500,000 tons in the 2019/20 crop year, after dip­ping to its low­est point since IOC records began (1990/91) in the pre­vi­ous crop year – 399,000 tons.

Despite record­ing two of the low­est lev­els of con­sump­tion in the past four years, the coun­try’s pro­duc­tion capac­ity still can­not match con­sump­tion rates and Italian pro­duc­ers have to turn to other European and inter­na­tional mar­kets to meet the demand.

For the incom­ing 2020/21 crop year, the lat­est esti­mates pub­lished by the Italian Confederation of Agriculture (CIA) hint at a 36 per­cent fall in local olive oil pro­duc­tion from last year to 235,000 tons. Another farm­ers asso­ci­a­tion, Coldiretti, recently esti­mated a less severe 22 per­cent decline in pro­duc­tion.

The dip in domes­tic pro­duc­tion com­bined with rel­a­tively low har­vests for Spain and Tunisia, how­ever, may have a pos­i­tive impact on Italian olive oil prices.

While many super­mar­kets are still sell­ing mass-pro­duced extra vir­gin olive oil at a very low price — as low as €2.50 per liter ($2.93) — pro­duc­ers mar­ket­ing their oils through pro­mo­tional cam­paigns, direct sales and other sales media could see a change.

The rel­e­vant col­lapse in quan­tity ends in a very high qual­ity olive oil and this should help bring up the prices, a price recov­ery after the poor per­for­mance last year,” Saverio Muraglia, the head of Coldiretti Puglia, told a local news­pa­per Corriere Salentino.

Muraglia’s com­ments have been echoed by Tuscan olive grow­ers. Olive oil pro­duc­tion in the cen­tral Italian region is expected to be bet­ter than last year as a result of a less severe cli­mate dur­ing the spring and sum­mer and absence of the olive fruit fly.

This year will see absolute qual­ity olive oils, both for qual­ity and for quan­tity,” Gionni Pruneti, head of the Chianti Classico PDO con­sor­tium, told La Nazione.

While the har­vest­ing sea­son starts, Pruneti added, the true chal­lenge for local grow­ers is to find enough work­ers to do the job.

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