Way forward for the olive oil industry is in exports

Exports are the main route for the expansion of the Greek olive oil market, according to a survey by research company ICAP, which shows Greece as the third-biggest olive oil producer in the world and the second-biggest producer of table olives. Olive oil and olive-pomace oil exports have shown fluctuations as their level depends mainly on the size of production and on demand from abroad, where it is exported in bulk form. In 2006, olive and pomace oil exports grew by 4.6 percent and 30.5 percent respectively. Imports were limited, as demand is covered by domestic production, and concern products with special features for purposes of mixing. Last year imports posted a 29.4 percent decline from 2005, coming exclusively from European Union countries. The majority of domestic consumption is covered by bulk olive oil (38 percent) and standardized olive oil (27 percent), while 35 percent concerns consumption of own products. Industry professionals argue that the domestic consumption of olive oil is not expected to change in the near future. The pomace oil market is showing significant growth even though its demand remains limited since it is used as a substitute for olive oil. Notably the domestic consumption of olive oil shrunk by 5.9 percent in the 2005-2006 period compared with the 2004-2005 period, while the domestic market for refined pomace oil showed 27.3 percent annual growth. The table olives market is forecast to remain stable this season, although in 2005-2006 consumption declined by 18.6 percent. Although most of the olives are consumed in bulk form, the last few years have seen an increase in the share of standardized products. The size of local production changes each year, depending mostly on the weather conditions. Another feature of this industry is that the pattern of production is cyclical, and tends to be repeated every two to three years.