Open Access
Issue
OCL
Volume 23, Number 6, November-December 2016
Article Number D608
Number of page(s) 5
Section Dossier: Oil crops and supply chain in Asia / La filière oléagineuse en Asie
DOI https://doi.org/10.1051/ocl/2016041
Published online 08 November 2016

© D. Capogna and M. Isabel Gómez, published by EDP Sciences, 2016

Licence Creative Commons
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

1 Introduction

Japan has the highest per capita olive oil consumption in Asia.

A pleasurable taste, positive effects on the health and sophisticated cultural associations are just some of the characteristics related with the Mediterranean Diet, of which olive oil is an essential constituent. The Japanese people are well aware of them and this explains the consistent year-on-year growth in olive oil consumption since the 1980s.

Economic and cultural factors are important. Japan is one of the world’s largest economies; disposable incomes are high and these are reflected in household consumption behavior. Culturally, the country is increasingly open to the outside world, discovering and adopting practices from elsewhere, notably the West.

Japan started to consume olive oil on a significant scale at the beginning of the 1980s; it was not until the 1990s however, probably encouraged by a promotional campaign launched in 1991 by the International Olive Oil Council, and by efforts of the producers and distributors, that the substantial annual increases began.

Instances of pioneering local cultivation of olive oil do exist, especially in the island of Shodoshima where the climate is very similar to that of the Mediterranean. Production is however very small; for present purposes, it can be considered that all olive oil consumed in Japan is imported.

2 Olive oil consumption: historical evolution

In the crop year 1992/93, olive oil imports in Japan amounted to 4943 t. At the end of the crop year 2014/2015 amounted to 61 903 t, an increase of 1252% in 22 years. Figure 1 summarizes this evolution.

thumbnail Fig. 1

Olive oil consumption in Japan: 1992–2015 (Source: International Olive Oil Council).

A total population of 127 000 000 people implies a growth in per capita consumption from 0.039 liters (approximately two tablespoons) in 1992 to 0.487 liters in 2015.

thumbnail Fig. 2

Per capita olive oil consumption in Japan: 1992–2015 (Source: International Olive Oil Council).

3 Imports of olive oil in Japan: situation and evolution

Spain, Italy are the principal sources of Japan’s olive oil, accounting between them for almost 95%.

Table 1 and Figure 3 summarize the current situation in this regard.

Table 1

Olive oil imports to Japan: source countries

Non-European Union sources account for 4% of the total.

thumbnail Fig. 3

Olive oil imports to Japan: principal source countries (Source: International Olive Oil Council).

Figure 4 shows the development of imports from Spain, Italy, Turkey and Greece from 1992 until the 2014/2015 crop year.

Italy and Spain have historically been the main import countries. Two years ago, the quantity of oil imported from Spain surpassed, for the first time, the quantity imported from Italy; this has continued. In 2014/2015, Japan imported 33 584 t (54% of the total) from Spain, vs. 25 066 t imported from Italy (40% of the total). This can be attributed to many factors, inter alia: Spain’s higher production in comparison to that of Italy; Spain’s attention and investment in producing a high quality product; and the promotional campaign undertaken by the Interprofesional del aceite de Oliva (https://www.aceitesdeolivadeespana.com/-www.oliveoilsfromspain.org), an institution supported by the Spanish government to promote the development of the Spanish olive oil market. Further details on exports from Spain and Italy are given below.

thumbnail Fig. 4

Evolution of olive oil imports (1992–2015) in Japan: main source countries (Source: International Olive Oil Council – IOC, 2015).

Table 2

Olive oil imports by Japan, detailed by countries period 2008/2009-2014/2015 (Source: International Olive Oil Council).

SPAIN – At the end of the 2013/14 crop year, Spain had exported 1 231 817 t to the world market (including intra-EU deliveries). Exports to non-EU countries totaled 336 115 t, of which 36% went to the United States, rendering this country Spain’s main export destination. Ranked by volume, Japan was next followed by China, Australia, Brazil, South Korea, Russia, Mexico, United Emirates and India in that order (IOC, 2015).

Deliveries of Spanish olive oil and olive pomace oil inside the EU amounted to 895 702 t, showing an increase of 78% compared to 2012/13. According to the volume ranking, Italy was the biggest EU buyer, taking 59% of all Spanish deliveries (531 430 t, up by 143% of the previous season), followed by Portugal (129 920 t), France (92 458 t), United Kingdom (54 749 t), Sweden (24 212 t), Netherlands (12 723 t), Germany (10 896 t), Belgium (9831 t) and Greece (9793 t).

Virgin oil accounted for 73% of Spanish sales, olive oil 19% and pomace oil 8% (151 000 t).

ITALY – In 2013/14, Italy exported a total of 416 892 t, an increase of 6% on 2012/13. Almost 40% of these exports stayed inside the EU where the main destinations, listed by volume in descending order, were Germany (28% of the total), France, Greece, United Kingdom, Spain, Belgium, Poland, Austria, Netherlands and Denmark.

Italian exports to non-EU countries accounted for 61% of its total exports and recorded a season-on-season increase of 9%. The top destinations were the United States (47% of the total), followed by Canada, Japan, Australia, China, Switzerland, Russia, Taiwan, South Korea and Brazil.

Italy’s imports of olive oil from outside the EU (29 126 t) were 64% lower than in the previous crop year and came mostly (74%) from Tunisia. Other suppliers were Turkey, Australia, Morocco and Chile.

Intra-EU purchases of olive oil by Italy totaled 591 257 t, up by 46% on the previous season. Almost all (99%) of this tonnage came from three countries: Spain (90%), Greece (6%) and Portugal (3%).

In 2013/14, the breakdown of Italian sales by category shows that 71% was virgin olive oil, 18% olive oil and 9% olive pomace oil.

4 Consumption: the different categories of olive oil

The olive oil market comprises different categories of products. Table 3 defines the different categories of olive oils according to the European Council Regulation, which is adopted worldwide. Statistically the categories are simplified as Virgin Olive Oil, Olive Oil and Pomace Olive Oil.

Table 3

Definition and designation of olive oil categories (Source: Council Regulation (EC) N. 1513/2001).

Between 2008/2009 and 2014/2015 imports of olive oil to Japan increased by 86%, from 33 307 t to 61 877 t. For 2014/2015, the share accounted for by virgin olive oil (practically all of which extra virgin) was 71%, olive oil 25% and pomace olive oil 5%. Figure 5 shows the evolution by category from 2008/2009 to 2014/2015.

5 Conclusions

Japan, a country with almost no olive production, is the world’s 14th biggest consumer of olive oil. Accelerating import growth heralds a positive outlook for exporters. Moreover, since the Japanese market, supported by a growing awareness of health matters, displays an increasing appreciation of the quality differences between the various classes of olive oil, imports can be expected to continue their concentration towards higher quality products.

In view of the health-properties of extra-virgin olive oil, the product is likely to become a regular element in the diet of certain segments of the population: the particular nature of the Japanese consumer, driven by the quest for novelty, increasingly open to foreign cultures and new modes of living, is one that encourages its consumption.

thumbnail Fig. 5

Imports of olive oil by Japan, by category: period 2008/2009–2014/2015 (Source: International Olive Oil Council – IOC, 2015).

Information campaigns such as those undertaker by local institutions, by distributors, by producers, by the International Olive Oil Council, by Spain’s Interprofesional del Aceite de Oliva or by other producing countries have contributed significantly to increasing public awareness of extra virgin olive oil in Japan.

References

  • International Olive Oil Council (IOC). 2016: Data. http://www.internationaloliveoil.org/. [Google Scholar]
  • International Olive Oil Council (IOC). 2012. Market research on consumption of olive oil and table olives. [Google Scholar]
  • International Olive Oil Council (IOC). 2015. Market newsletter 94. May. [Google Scholar]
  • International Olive Oil Council (IOC). 2015. Market newsletter 98. October. [Google Scholar]
  • Council Regulation (EC) No. 1513/2001 of 23 July 2001 amending Regulations No. 136/66/EEC and (EC) No. 1638/98 as regards the extension of the period of validity of the aid scheme and the quality strategy for olive oil. [Google Scholar]

Cite this article as: Daniela Capogna, María Isabel Gómez. Olive oil: an overview of the Japanese market. OCL 2016, 23(6) A608.

All Tables

Table 1

Olive oil imports to Japan: source countries

Table 2

Olive oil imports by Japan, detailed by countries period 2008/2009-2014/2015 (Source: International Olive Oil Council).

Table 3

Definition and designation of olive oil categories (Source: Council Regulation (EC) N. 1513/2001).

All Figures

thumbnail Fig. 1

Olive oil consumption in Japan: 1992–2015 (Source: International Olive Oil Council).

In the text
thumbnail Fig. 2

Per capita olive oil consumption in Japan: 1992–2015 (Source: International Olive Oil Council).

In the text
thumbnail Fig. 3

Olive oil imports to Japan: principal source countries (Source: International Olive Oil Council).

In the text
thumbnail Fig. 4

Evolution of olive oil imports (1992–2015) in Japan: main source countries (Source: International Olive Oil Council – IOC, 2015).

In the text
thumbnail Fig. 5

Imports of olive oil by Japan, by category: period 2008/2009–2014/2015 (Source: International Olive Oil Council – IOC, 2015).

In the text

Current usage metrics show cumulative count of Article Views (full-text article views including HTML views, PDF and ePub downloads, according to the available data) and Abstracts Views on Vision4Press platform.

Data correspond to usage on the plateform after 2015. The current usage metrics is available 48-96 hours after online publication and is updated daily on week days.

Initial download of the metrics may take a while.