b-school, Business, Economics, MBA, Microeconomy, Spain

Spain buying cheap olive oil from Italy… shouldn’t it be the other way around?

I’ve had a busy days. Mondays are the worst. Always. The only thing good about mondays is that, once you begin doing things and before you realise, it’s already tuesday.

Today I’ve been meddling with many things. One of them was a group essay for a Spanish company that wants to export olive oil. I decided to contribute with a lot of statistical data and tried to get some conclusions.

Using the TARIC (Integrated Tariff for European Communities) code for olive oil: 1509, that you can find here, and searching in Import/Export databases from Spanish Chambers of Commerce here, it’s easy to find that Spain exported, last year, 1.778 million € in olive oil to the following countries:

Spain: exporting a lot of olive oil

Which is not surprising. Italy is the main market for olive oil exports. Being Spanish oil of better quality, and being Spanish brands less known than Italian ones, a big chunk of olive oil is exported to Italy, where it is repacked and exported again to third countries as an Italian export with an Italian brand. The US market is a good example: try to find Spanish oil. (Then, when you end up buying an Italian brand you end up carrying Spanish oil home.)

It’s a consequence of the rather recent opening of the Spanish economy to international markets. Spain as a brand is still not enough known. Fortunately, if you see series from previous years, Italy’s share of Spanish exports is less important as the country directly exports bigger quantities.

In any case, Spain leads the world’s exports of olive oil, with 1.778 million Euros. But, does it import olive oil too?

And the answer is yes: the biggest exporter also imports olive oil.

A 15% of the quantity exported… yes! Spain also imports olive oil. And surely they have learned the Italian lesson. Spain imports olive oil from Tunisia, Morocco, Syria… and surely repacks it, rises its price and sends it somewhere else. At least there’s a big chance that your Spanish oil is really Spanish, but no certainty at all.

But there is Italy too. Spain imports oil from Italy. I’ve crossed the data, relating volumes and values, and Spain exports oil to Italy more expensive than imports it!. In fact Spain pays more for Moroccan, Greek, Turkey or Jordan olive oil than for Italian oil. Funny.

You can see the prices in the following figures. Spain exports much more expensive than it imports. Fortunately.


Arbitrage: buy cheap, sell expensive. Olive oil too.


3 thoughts on “Spain buying cheap olive oil from Italy… shouldn’t it be the other way around?

  1. patricia says:

    thanks for the info, it really sounds like a joke but could you maybe help me, i am trying to make a reseach for olive oil market in portugal and it is quite difficult to find any info.
    do you know any website or other sources where I can find any info about portugal
    thanks and best regards

  2. adolfoper@hotmail.com says:

    I think Spain is selling high quality oil to Italy for international market and buying low quality oil from Italy for the national consumer. We produce a better oil than the average consumer can afford.

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