NAOOA Statement on Market Conditions
December 19, 2023 – Last year’s crop was challenging for many olive-growing countries. Spain, the world’s largest producer of olive oil, saw production drop to approximately 50% of recent averages. Other major producing countries saw significant declines, as well. While early indications pointed to a better crop this year, industry reports issued last week suggest Spain’s 2023/24 production likely will not be much better than last year, if at all, due to disappointing yields of oil from the fruit. Looking at estimated production reports from other countries, with Italy rebounding but Greece and Turkey facing large declines, it now seems almost certain that total global production for the 2023/24 harvest will be lower than last year.
While these factors have continued to put upward pressure on pricing, it is important to note that current global market pricing is still not being fully reflected on U.S. store shelves. This is particularly true for private label brands, which may have purchased oil before prices started to rise. Until U.S. retail pricing better reflects the reality of the market, we aren’t able to estimate the impact these conditions will have on U.S. demand.
In light of higher prices and tightening supply, the NAOOA has announced that we’re launching the nation’s largest, most comprehensive olive oil testing program to both assure consumers that they’re getting the quality and authenticity they deserve and to deter any potential bad actors who might seek to capitalize on current market conditions. The testing program will begin sampling in early 2024 to coincide with the first major shipments of olive oil from the most recent Northern Hemisphere growing season.
In this environment, it’s important for consumers to understand the many ways olive oil delivers great value – even at higher prices. Olive oil supports heart and brain health and protects against a host of diseases. Also, olive oil isn’t just good for us, it’s good for the planet. Unlike many other cooking oils, olive oil is produced from a permanent crop (i.e., a tree versus a crop that has to be replanted every year), and global production of olive oil absorbs the carbon emissions of a city of 7 million people every year.
NAOOA also believes the current situation underscores the long-term need for more investments in olive cultivation and water management around the world to better assure the stability of the global olive oil supply and to meet the consumption growth trends in the U.S. and elsewhere.