Olive oil exporters have reason to smile

Over the past year, production of olive oil in Portugal reached its highest level since 1967. With more than 76,000 tons of olive oil being supplied to the internal and external markets, the sector is presently experiencing significant growth.    

During January and August this year, international sales of oil olive soared 40% when compared to the same time period in 2011, largely thanks to the Brazilian market.

Exports of the product are now worth over €161 million, a record high figure that over the last six years has increased by 88%.

Mariana Matos of Casa do Azeite, Association of Olive Oil in Portugal said: “Five years ago, nobody could have imagined that the olive oil industry would be experiencing this growth. The way figures have soared seemed totally unlikely back then.”

She added that investment in olive groves throughout the country has been a major contributing factor to the massive production increase. Groves in the Alentejo, particularly, have been major contributors to positive results in the trade balance.

Officials from the industry believe that olive oil production will increase even further when all of the newly-planted groves mature.

“In June 2011, it was the intention to plant over 6,309 acres of new olive groves, and there are still thousands of acres to come into production,” said Mariana.

More than 62% of all internal market production takes place in the Alentejo, which has gone from producing 14,854 tons in 2004 to 47,278 tonnes last year. The increase in export of olive oil is due, in the main, to the increase in purchase of the ‘green gold’ by the Brazilian market. In the first eight months of this year, Brazil purchased 27,816 tonnes of olive oil from Portugal, an increase of 28.6% on last year.

“Sales from Brazil are expected to increase drastically by the end of 2012, as the biggest exports are made at Christmas time. Brazil buys 40% of the oil it consumes from Portugal alone,” concluded Mariana.

From January to August this year, Portugal earned €93 million in sales from the Brazilian market, a 35% year-on-year increase.

Spain is the second country buying the most olive oil from Portugal. In 2011, sales reached €40.3 million, the highest figure in the last five years. From January to August, exports to Spain increased 50% in comparison to the same period last year, with sales reaching €33.4 million.