Spain is the first country in the world to produce table olives and is also a leader in exports. The sector has a great relevance in the whole of the national agri-food industry, as much for the number of jobs that it generates as for its volume of production and export, leading Spain the world market in both concepts. Thus, the table olive generates more than 8,000 direct jobs, more than six million daily wages for olive harvesting and cultivation, to which must be added those created by companies and auxiliary factories such as glass, tinplate, carton , machinery, transport, etc. This represents 27% of the employment generated by the national sector of preserves and preparations of vegetable products.


Of the total area of olive groves in the world (10 million hectares), more than one million hectares is dedicated to the production of table olives. Spain is the world’s leading table olives producer, followed a long way by Turkey, Egypt, Syria, Algeria, Argentina and Greece. The world average production in the last five seasons amounts to almost 2.5 million tons, of which 21% are Spanish. According to the survey on crop yields and yields in 2014 (ESYRCE), Spain has 2,593,523 hectares of olive groves, of which 147,390 (5.68%) are dedicated to table olives and dual-ability and the rest to Olive oil mill. More specifically, 76,947 hectares (3% of the total) are dedicated exclusively to table olives, which are concentrated mainly in Andalusia and Extremadura, which account for 83% and 14% of the total respectively. By varieties, of the total production more than half was Hojiblanca olive and 40% Manzanilla. The rest added small volumes of other olives of minor varieties such as the Carrasqueña or the Cacereña. At the national level, Andalusia produced this campaign 86% of the national crop, a percentage much higher than the previous campaign. Similarly, within Andalusia, Seville is the first producing province, with more than half of the regional harvest, followed by Cordoba and Malaga. Other regions with great table olive production are Extremadura (13% of the total in the last season) and, far away from these, Murcia and Aragon. European production represents approximately 45% of the world (about 900,000 tonnes), and within the European Union, Spanish production is the majority with about 75% of the total. After Spain, the countries with the highest production were Greece (with 235,000 tonnes, more than double the previous campaign) and Italy (with 79,500 tonnes, also almost twice as much as in the previous season). They also have table olive productions Portugal, Cyprus, France and Croatia, but their production volume is considerably lower. In addition to the European Union, other countries with large productions were Algeria, Egypt, Turkey, Argentina and Syria.


The European Union is the biggest consumer of table olives, with about 650,500 tonnes. In addition to the EU, where Spain and Italy stand out for their consumption, they are also big consumers of table olives Turkey (with 350,000 tonnes), Egypt (320,000 tonnes) and the United States (210,000 tonnes). On a smaller scale, there are also large consumers Syria, Russia, Algeria, Brazil, Iran, Morocco, Jordan and Canada. On the other hand, in Spain the national consumption increased reaching a figure around 180,000 tons in the 2014/2015 season, according to estimates of C.O.I. The consumption in the homes supposes around 75% of the national consumption of table olive and the rest is consumption in hotel and catering.


The Spanish business sector of table olives consists of about 400 industries dedicated to the framing or processing of olives and 270 to the packaging. It is a sector formed mainly by medium-sized or small companies, with basically Spanish capital. It generates about 8,000 direct jobs and around 6 million wages in the collection and cultivation of olive trees. Your contribution to P.I.B. Is estimated at about 1 billion euros per year. Within the incamadoras, 51% is located in Andalusia, followed by Extremadura (26%), Aragon (9%), Catalonia (5%) and Murcia (3%). It is also Andalusia where olive packers are concentrated (43% of the total). Extremadura (13%), Aragon and Catalonia (9% in each case) and Madrid (6%) are a long way off.


Regarding trade, according to data from the International Olive Council, the global average export of the last five seasons, excluding intra-Community shipments, reached 675,200 tonnes (net drained weight). In addition to being the country with the highest consumption of table olives in the European Union, Spain is also the leading exporter of table olives in the world, with a large difference from the rest. Specifically, Spain exports about 30% of the total, some 200,000-300,000 tonnes, valued at more than 710 million euros, followed long distances by Egypt, Morocco, Greece, Turkey, Peru, Argentina, Syria, Portugal and Chile. Spanish exports account for 29% of all international trade in olives, while the second country, Egypt, remains at 14%, the third, Morocco at 10% and Turkey and Argentina at 9%. As with olive oil, the balance of trade in the table olives sector is clearly positive. According to data from the Customs Directorate, in 2014 (data for the whole year, not the marketing year), exports of table olives from Spain amounted to 364,838 tonnes (net drained weight), for A value of 711.5 million euros. Spanish exports in the year 2014 saw a rise of 17.23% compared to the year 2013 (that year had decreased compared to 2012. By geographical areas, exports increased in all geographical areas in 2014. Sales made within The EU accounted for 42%, while the United States-Canada-Puerto Rico axis accounted for a further 24%, while exports to South American, Eastern European, and Arab countries, which bought 8%, were also significant. Spain exported table olives to more than 200 countries, 80 more than in 2013. In 2014 its main market was the United States with 21% of exports, followed by Italy, France and Brazil. Russia, Germany, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom and Canada, with the main customer being the United States (21% of the total), followed by Italy (10%), France, Brazil and Russia , with P (7%), Germany and Portugal (6%), Saudi Arabia (5%), United Kingdom (4%) and Canada (3%). In view of the exported varieties, Hojiblanca olives with the most sold abroad (51% of the total). Then the chamomiles (33%) and the Cacereñas and Gordal, with quotas of 8% in each case. As far as types are concerned, 56% of all exports are made up of green olives and the remaining 44% for black olives. Finally, the most popular presentation in foreign trade is that of slices (29% of the total). They are followed by the stuffed olives (27%), the smooth (21%), the boned (20%) and the salads (2%). With the availability of high quality olives and in sufficient quantity, import has never been relevant in this sector. However, in some campaigns the import figure has grown compared to others, which is explained by the industry’s concern to find olives at competitive prices. Imports are much less important, reaching in the last campaign up to about 5,000 Tonnes, of which half come from the European Union.

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Montse Gonzalez