The markets of Japan and South Korea are becoming increasingly attractive for olive oil, as more consumers seem to prefer this product, according to International Olive Council (IOC). Japan is the country with the highest olive oil consumption per capita in Asia, followed by South Korea, which is far ahead of the relevant Chinese market.
For the period 2014/2015 the Japanese imports of olive oil totalled 61,887 tonnes, recording 10% growth compared to the previous season. A percentage of 96% of the aggregate tonnage of olive oil imported to Japan came from the EU.
Spain leads the Japanese market by second consecutive year, with a share amounting to 54% of the total quantities of olive oil imported into Japan. Next in line comes Italy with 41% and Greece with 1%.
Spain from 2008/2009 until 2014/2015 managed to wide its share of the Japanese market from 40% to 54% (14 percentage points), contrasting with Italy whose share narrowed from 52% to 41% (11 percentage points) in the same period. The remaining 4 percentage points of imports came from non-EU countries, notably Turkey, although its market share fell from 6% to 3%.
Regarding the type of olive oil, extra virgin and virgin olive oil representing 71% of total imports.
Consuming olive oil appears to have gained a significant proportion of consumers in South Korea as well. At the end of the 2014/2015 crop year, South Korea olive oil imports amounted to 16,352 tonnes, a percentage decrease of 7% compared with the previous season. However imports showed a significant increase by 71% compared to the period 2008/2009 of which imports ranged at just 9,590 tons.
Spain also dominated in Korea during the period 2014/2015 with a percentage of 71%, followed by Italy with 25% and Turkey with 2%. Regarding the types of olive oil extra virgin and virgin olive oil representing 72% of the total imported quantities, 9% blends of virgin and refined olive oil and 19% pomace olive oil.