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Food

Selling Big in US, Greek Olive Oil Exports See Record Year

ATHENS – After generations of ceding the olive oil international market to other countries – even selling the product to Italian companies who rebranded it – Greece’s olive oil industry’s exports are booming toward a record year.

Even the waning COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t cut into sales in 2022, with the Office of Economic and Commercial Affairs of the Greek Embassy in New York reporting that Greece was the second-largest exporter of table olives to the United States in the first half of 2022, behind Spain.

Spanish exports of table olives to the U.S. exceeded 63,000 tons in the first six months of the year, while approximately 57,000 tons of olives were imported from Greece during the same period, said Olive Oil Times.

Table olive exports from Morocco and Italy reached 19,000 and 11,000 tons, Greece finally gaining some standing around the world for a prized product that regularly wins top global awards.

And in terms of value, Greece topped the list of U.S. table olive suppliers with a total turnover exceeding $124 million (126.10 euro) because of a higher average price of $2.20 (2.24 euros) per kilogram, the report noted.

American consumers paid an average of $1.47 (€1.49) per kilogram of Spanish table olives, with the value of Spain’s table olive exports totaling $93 million (94.58 euros) in the first six months of 2022.

At a global level, exports of Greek table olives are expected to increase by around 20 percent in value this year compared to the 2021-22 crop year for one of the country’s most important commodities.

“If we can sustain our pace, we will have a record year of exports (of table olives) of more than 600 million euros, ($610.17 million,)” Nelos Georgoudis, former head of the Panhellenic Association of Manufacturers, Packers, and Exporters of Table Olives (PEMETE) told the site.

Curiously, the bounty comes at the same time the previous crop year wasn’t as big as hoped for, Georgoudis saying that it “was one of the most difficult in recent years, not only due to the reduced production .. but also due to the negative international economic environment.”

A total of 165,000 tons of table olives were produced in Greece last year, according to data from the European Commission, 24 percent below the country’s rolling five-year average.

Despite the absence of rain and shortages of workers in some producing areas, the sector is expected to rebound with an estimated production of more than 200,000 tons in the 2022-23 crop year, the report said.

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