Why so much commercial difficulties in the United States for extra virgin olive oil?
The good news that emerged during the Fancy Food Show is that there are increases in “non-traditional” areas for olive oil with non-whites, and those living in the Midwest and South
If imports in April 2014 are compared with the figures for the same month a year earlier, accordin IOC data, it emerges that all the key markets are picking up and recording growth ranging from +8.7% in Australia to +37.2% in the United States and +137.8% for Canada. The only exception is China where there is a 25% decrease.
For this reason, trade in olive oil and olive pomace oil through the first seven months of 2013/14 only shows a decrease of -2% in the seven countries bigger importers compared with the same seven months in 2012/13, going down from 348304 t to 341288 t.
When broken down in detail, review shows an increase in imports of 11% in Canada, 8% in Russia and 7% in Japan but virtually no change in the United States. Canada is particularly striking in that imports have switched from negative to positive values.
Import decreases are located in China (-28%), Brazil (-9%) and Australia (-7%) although there have been signs of recovery in the last two countries in recent months compared with levels during the same period of the previous season.
Why so much commercial difficulties in the United States?
During the educational seminar held by the IOC on 30 June at the Fancy Food Show in New York the Vice President of the North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA) shared the outcome of a 2014 national attitude and usage study co-financed by the IOC.
To cite a few of the findings, more than half of olive oil users use olive oil more than any other oil; once consumers become olive oil users, they tend to use it a lot; the overall trend is towards increased usage but more than half (56%) of olive oil users find choosing an olive oil to be confusing because they are unaware of what factors are important to consider and many myths about olive oil persist.
For example, respondents widely believed it to be true that:
- The colour of olive oil is related to its quality (only 6% knew this is false)
- Light-tasting olive oil has fewer calories than other olive oils (only 16% knew this is false)
- Like wine, olive oil gets better with age (only 24% knew this is false)
- Extra virgin olive oil is for cold or raw use only (only 30% knew this is false)
The good news that emerged from the survey is that there are increases in “non-traditional” areas for olive oil with non-whites, and those living in the Midwest and South.