Lebanese olive oil exports double in three years

Exports of olive oil have been growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 30 percent since 2014, according to the Olive Oil Factsheet published by IDAL.

Exports of olive oil reached 10,000 tons last year. They were mainly exported to the Gulf and North America. Around 26 percent of total exports went to Saudi Arabia, and 13 percent to the US.

There are growing export partners such as Australia, Venezuela, and various African countries. Exports to these countries have been on the rise in the recent years due to the presence of a large Lebanese diaspora.

Olive oil production varies between three to 3.5 tons per hectare (10,000 square meters) in high production years, and 1.3-1.5 tons in low production years. This variability is due to the nature of the crop, and the practices of farmers. Production of olive oil reached 11,300 tons according to the latest report issued by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Around 56,000 hectares are occupied by olive trees and they are mainly grown in Batroun, Koura, Zgharta, Akkar, Rashaya El Foukar, and Hasbaya. Around 70 percent of olive trees are dedicated to the production of olive oil, and the remaining produce olives that are eaten.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), there are 170,000 olive farmers and growers in the country. Around 77 percent of olive oil producers are small growers managing olive orchards of 5000 m2.

The country has about 544 registered oil mills with the highest concentration in the North (274), followed by South (139), Mount Lebanon (110), and Bekaa (21).

Producers are working on strengthening the packaging and labeling of their bottles, enhancing the quality of their oil through testing, and diversifying the flavors of their products.

Organic olive oil is becoming more popular, with 300 hectares of land currently dedicated to this field.