Saturday, October 16, 2010

Is There a Perfect Storm Forming for the Australian Olive Industry?

Many olive groves across Australia planted between 1997 and 2005 will be coming into full production in 2011. The recent drought-breaking rains across most of Australia will enhance this production and 2011 looks to be a bumper year for production of olive oil.

A perfect storm describes an event where a rare combination of circumstances will aggravate a situation drastically.
The perfect storm gathering for the olive industry will be from the coincidence of the following circumstances:
1. Potentially the largest volume of olive oil produced in Australia as groves reach mature commercial production.
2. Alternate bearing resulted in 2009 producing a lower yield in some states such as Western Australia so 2010 can be expected to produce larger yields.
3. Good rains throughout growing regions can be expected to enhance yields.
4. The strong Australian dollar making imported olive oil cheaper, the International Olive Council reports an increase of 35% in exports to Australia in 2009/2010.
5. Waning consumer confidence is being reflected in declining retail sales across all retail goods in Australia.
6. The strong Australian dollar making exports to USA and Europe less competitive
7. Near record carryover stocks from the 2009/2010 season in Spain, where almost 50% of the world’s olive oil is produced.
8. The International Olive Council predicts a good campaign in Spain for the forthcoming harvest with near record yields and slightly higher production than the previous season worldwide.

Given all these trends the Australian olive oil industry could be in for stormy times. The most affected are likely to be the larger enterprises which trade at world parity prices. Smaller boutique producers should be less affected as their markets are mainly local, however some downward pressure on prices and more competitive selling conditions can be expected.