Rising Price of Olive Oil Costs European Shoppers 231 Million Euros

Feb 09, 2016, 03:29 ET from IRI

BRACKNELL, England, February 9, 2016 /PRNewswire/ --

  • Bacterial disease blighting olive trees in Italy and a poor harvest in Spain has knock on effect on olive oil prices across Europe 
  • Retailer own label olive oil prices increase faster than national brands but remain cheaper option for shoppers 

The price of olive oil purchased by shoppers in supermarkets across Western Europe increased by an average of 19.8%in 2015 according to the latest analysis of consumer goods sales by retail analysts IRI.

     (Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160209/331046-INFO )
     (Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160209/331047-INFO )

The cause of the price hike is a bacterial disease in Italy that is still affecting more than one million olive trees at the same time as a poor harvest in Spain, Europe's biggest olive producing country, that started in 2014 and continues to impact production.

Manufacturers, as well as retailers with their own label products, are pushing up the price of olive oil to cover their increased costs. Shoppers spent an additional 231 million Euros in 2015 on olive oil as a result, which drove sales value for the whole oil category by +9.5% to 2.7 billion Euros.  

The price increases were most severe in Spain, Italy and Greece where olive oil is a key cooking ingredient and one of the most purchased food items. Promotions on olive oil products all but stopped in these countries as prices increased - in Spain by +27.2% in 2015 compared to the previous year, in Italy by +21.0% and in Greece +17.2%.

As the prices continued to rise in 2015, accelerating during the final months of the year, shoppers across the region started to buy less olive oil. IRI reported a decline in sales volumes during 2015 in every country except Italy, where sales volumes remained relatively flat (with an increase of just 1.0% in volume sales). The decline in sales volumes during 2015 was most evident in Greece (-18.0%) and Spain (-16.2%) compared to 2014.

A decrease for sales of other oils of -2.52% of total volume sales across the monitored countries is interesting and indicates that shoppers are not switching to other oil products, despite relatively stable price (-0.9%).

Private label prices increases more severe 

In every country except the UK price rises of olive oil were higher or equal for private label than for the total oil category price increase, which is often the case when raw material costs increase. Shoppers then opt for the best price option.

Globally the price in increase of private label olive oil had little impact on consumption (-0.5 point versus last year) but there are strong contrasts between countries.

In Spain for example, where there is already a strong private label culture, the price increase is as high for private label as it is for national brands (28.6% and 26.6% respectively) yet private labels grew in terms of volume market share (+3.1 points compared to the previous year) as well as showing an increase in total sales value of   13.3% to 529 million euros.

The UK follows the same trend as Spain in terms of volume market share evolution for private label with an increase of +5.3 points versus last year (the highest among the seven countries). This was due to the strong price increase of national brands (+6.1%) while private label's price decreased by 1.8%.

In France the opposite occurred. With the price war impacting mainly national brands, the price increase for olive oil impacted just private label which had a direct impact on volume market share - down -7.2 points versus the previous year.

Despite the high increase in the price of private label olive oil, consumers still prefer to buy own label products that remain less expensive than most national brands.

"Olive oil has always been very dependent on weather conditions, but the bacteria attack in Italy might change the game for a while, particularly for those countries where olives are a staple purchase. There have been reports of thefts from some olive groves in Spain as producers in Italy look to import olives from Spain and Greece." commented Anne Lefranc, European Marketing Director at IRI. "Olive oil which is a staple product for Southern Europe countries seems to have become a 'premium' item at least for the heavy consumer countries."

"Price rises are costing shoppers who are still trying to balance budgets. In those countries where olive oil is one of the main shopping essentials, price increases can have a major impact on the shoppers' basket which can affect sales of other categories and distort the price of total FMCG sales for some countries like Spain. Retailers and manufacturers need to review their price, promotion, assortment strategy so that they are clear on what impact price rises will have on total category and basket sales."

NOTES TO EDITORS: 

All figures quoted are from IRI's Infoscan market measurement solution. IRI measured actual sales of olive oil products from January to November for 2014 and 2015 in seven European countries.

About IRI 

IRI is a leader in delivering powerful market, consumer and media exposure information, predictive analytics and the foresight that leads to action. We go beyond the data to create growth for our clients in the FMCG, retail and over-the-counter health care industries by pinpointing what matters and illuminating how it can impact their businesses.  Move your business forward at http://www.iriworldwide.com. Follow IRI on Twitter: @IRI_INTL

For further information please contact:

Teresa Horscroft, PR Consultant, Eureka Communications
Tel: +44(0)1420-564346
Email: teresa@eurekacomms.co.uk

Anne Lefranc, European Marketing Director at IRI
Email: anne.lefranc@IRIworldwide.com
Tel: +33-1-30-06-23-62

SOURCE IRI