Olive oil is showing up in more and more kitchens and on more and more dinner tables throughout the world. The oil is cherished by cooks, enjoyed on salads, and healthy for the heart. Over the last two decades this combination of factors has led to increased consumption far beyond the Mediterranean Basin, the traditional home of the olive and its oil. It used to be that virtually all olive oil was produced as well as consumed around the Mediterranean and in the Middle East. Production has been sufficient for local (Mediterranean Basin) demand. As worldwide demand increases olive trees will be planted and olive oil produced outside of the countries that have historically been the leading producers. This is a big trend that will need capital and those who have the foresight may well profit from investment in growing, refining, exporting, distributing, or selling olive oil in regions as diverse as the UK, India, Japan, China, or the USA.
Olives and Who Makes the Oil
People have been making oil from olives for as long as 5,000 years according to archeological evidence in Greece. Today olives are grown and processed into to oil in Spain, Italy, and Greece who are the major producers at 36%, 25%, and 18% of worldwide production according to recent figures. As demand for more olives and more oil goes up these countries will probably not be able to answer the call. Greece, for example, devotes 60% of its cultivatable land to olive orchards already.
After the big three olive oil producers, come Tunisia (8%), Turkey (5%), Syria (4%), Morocco (3%), and Portugal (1%) in the same recent set of figures from 2005. These countries, from Spain at the top down to Portugal, produced 90% of the world supply in 2005. Every other nation produced less than 1% of world production. A big part of this is that olives are native to the Mediterranean Basin and grow best there. It is not just a matter of the plant surviving but that it produces high quality olives for refining into exportable oil.
As the figures show a handful of producers currently make the oil from olives. Now the question is who will step in to make more as worldwide demand multiplies? What kind of olives will work the best in what locations and who is going to invest the capital to make all of this work?
Where Are Folks Going to Plant Olive Trees?
Olives are grown throughout the world but they work best in the Mediterranean Basin. The space, climate, and soil conducive to growing exportable quality olive oils are on the opposite side of the Mediterranean Sea for the current major producers, Spain, Italy, and Greece. Tunisia (8%) and Morocco (3%) are already in the top seven producers. Now Algeria, the second largest nation in Africa is planning a million hectare Comprar aceite de oliva online planting of olive trees. Algeria lies to the immediate East of Morocco and on the Mediterranean Sea. Its climate is Mediterranean. Olives are grown for food and oil already in Algeria but the infrastructure has not been present on a sufficiently large scale to refine enough oil promptly enough to produce export quality oil. A major factor here is having enough processing plants dedicated to a set of orchards and the infrastructure needed to pick and process in a timely manner. Another factor has been that of foreign connections for export, marketing, and sales.
It turns out that folks are going plant a million hectares of olive trees in Algeria. That is, for those from the USA, 2.5 million acres. If planted in one block it would be 100 kilometers or 62.5 miles on a side. Foreign investors are bringing their expertise and capital to this project. In addition foreign companies are setting up projects in such a way as to attract the foreign capital necessary to plant orchards, tend orchards, pick olives, process olives to oil, and send processed oil through a supply chain to the supermarkets of places as far afield as North America, India, and Japan.