With a rich historical and gastronomical heritage, olive oil was first used as lamp fuel and in religious ceremonies in the Mediterranean about 2500 BCE. Then olive oil’s first culinary use began during the 5th-4th century BCE. Archaeological evidence shows that olives were turned into olive oil by 6000 BC. The Phoenicians spread the olive to the Mediterranean shores of Africa and Southern Europe and then the olive culture was spread to the early Greeks then Romans.
Now we are using olive oil everywhere, from healthy winter soups, to beauty treatments, fancy desserts, and even elegant cocktails after dinner. So olive oil is taking over and makes the entire world a healthier, happier place.
Let’s dive into the facts and see which countries are taking the lead and how the new generations are rethinking the way we use it in a more sustainable, innovative and meaningful way!
The Greeks proudly consume the most olive oil worldwide, which makes perfect sense as they have easy access to the yummiest olive oil in the world. They consume a minimum of 24 liters per year followed by Spain, Italy, and Portugal keeping up with the Mediterranean lifestyle. Northern Europe and North America consume less, but the consumption of olive oil outside its home territory has been rising steadily.
Olive oil’s global production reached 3,315,000 tons in the 2017/2018 crop year, although the data is only provisional according to the International Olive Council and olive oil consumption also increased by 9% in the 2017/18 harvest season, reaching 2,958,000 tons.
Raising health awareness and having access to nutritional facts and education, results in increased consumption of olive oil with virgin and extra virgin olive oil leading the way, rising by 9.2 and 7.2 percent, respectively. Our eating habits are vastly different from the previous generations’ and more and more people are paying attention to their diets in a mindful, sustainable way.
But the most outstanding fact is that we get thought-provokingly innovative with the way we use olive oil with the new generations looking for environmentally friendly ways to have it all; a healthy strong body, a balanced diet, natural yet efficient beauty products, and alternative therapeutic methods.
No wonder global olive oil usage has increased by 73% over the last 25 years and more countries are embracing olive oil making it a part of their modern culture.
Recent studies show that there’s a growing market for olive oil in India, as their gourmet food market is evolving.
The appetite for olive oil has spread to China as well as the country is becoming one of the main importers of olive oil globally.
Even Scandinavian countries are turning into a growing and demanding market for high-quality olive oil. Olive oil tastings are the new 'it-thing' in Sweden. It looks like the sales toward the Nordic countries will continue to rise in the coming years.
Quality and small production are what attract modern consumers and online shops are booming, offering high quality, great prices and convenience.