The olive oil tree flourishes in Mediterranean-type climates (between 30-45th latitudes) with hot dry summers and cool winters. The trees are sensitive to the cold during the growing season, but are able to tolerate drought and heat. Olive oil production is still mostly centered in the Mediterranean region, although in recent years we are beginning to see olive oils from regions throughout the world.
Spain with over 320 million olive trees is the number one producer of olive oil at 37% of world production, with 75% of that coming from Andalusia. The types of olives grown in Spain are the arbequina and verdial varieties of Catalonia, and the hojiblanca, piqual, cornicabra, and lechin varieties of the south. The piqual variety of the south accounts for 40% of all olive trees in Spain.
The second largest producer with 24% of worldwide production is Italy. The types of olives grown in Italia are the coratina in Puglia (Bari) , Ogliarola Barese in Puglia and Basilicata , Carolea in Calabria , Leccino in Toscana and Umbria , Frantoio and Moraiolo in the centre of Italia , Taggiasca in Liguria.
Italians who consume 10 quarts of olive oil per person per year do not produce enough oil for their domestic consumption, yet they are one of the largest exporters of olive oil in the world. Much of their oil is imported, bottled and exported as an Italian product. Spain Greece and Tunisia are their major suppliers.
Greece is the third largest producer with 22% of the world production. And Tunisia the fourth producer with 9% of the world production , the types of olives grown in Tunisia are essantialy represented ( 95%) by two types : Chemlali and Chitoui .
Other countries that produce significant amounts of olive oil are Turkey (7%) , Syria (7%) and Morocco (2%) .
These seven countries alone account for 90% of world production
Olive oil represents 3% of all fats and oils consumed in the world.
The main olive oil producers are also the main consuming countries. European Union accounts for 82% of world consumption. Mediterranean basin countries represent 90% of world consumption. Other consuming countries are United States, Canada, Australia and Japan.
Production Cost and Market Price
Olive oil is a relatively expensive oil compared to other kinds of oil since it needs a special production treatment: olive crop is a long process (olives are produced only after the maturity of the tree; that means after five years). Harvest is still made by hand in most of the regions. Finally, processing needs an advanced technology, particularly in large producing areas(see technology).
Prices paid to producers are quite unstable, mainly due to the change in the quantities produced from one year to another and the level of stocks. However, it is difficult to assess the price formation mechanism. Refined olive oils are generally less expensive than virgin oils. A possible explanation would be an insufficent amount of lampante oil to meet demand of refining industry given the good quality of produced virgin oil and as a result an increase in lampante oil prices.
The producer prices paid on three representative markets of the Europeen Country – Bari (Italy), Heraklion/Messinia (Greece) and Jaén (Spain). And also market of Sfax (Tunisia); their movements influence the prices paid in other regions of the European Community and have an impact on pricing in other producing countries, especially of exports.