Although olive oil is mainly produced and consumed in the Mediterranean region and 75% of it in the European Union, its demand has expanded worldwide, due to its health benefits.
The Mediterranean region’s share of olive oil, accounts for 95% of the world’s production and consumption with the EU countries taking the biggest piece of the pie, of 75%.
The demand has given an opportunity for expansion and growth to other ‘third’ Mediterranean countries, getting them out of immigration and poverty, threatening though the EU olive producing countries.
Instead of possible contradictions between the EU countries and the ‘third’ Mediterranean countries, a working together relationship should be developed, to accomplish optimization of world market increase, employment climbing and environmental preservation.
Olive oil generates a direct income to 7-8 million families in the Mediterranean region and an indirect income to 40 million families in less fortunate areas.
The noticeable rising demand presents the olive oil as a promising sector for the region, and Syria, Morocco, also Tunisia are investing heavily in it, with technological dependance on the EU countries.
Olive oil is the healthiest fat and consumers who get used to the taste, do not replace it with cheaper oils when the price is rising, because they are influenced by the knowledge of its health benefits.
The olive oil sector is seeing many changes. Technological upgrades with improvements in quality and environmental profiles. The aim of the new technology is to increase quality and preserve jobs. Mechanical technology reduces the cost of the final product and causes a significant employment loss.
New developments in technology are taking place. Extraction press technology is the traditional olive oil extraction process that requires a little of water and results in the production of very contaminated waste-waters. High costs of labor decreases the use of this technology.
The centrifugation technology saves labor, but demands a lot of water and produces huge amounts of waste-waters.
The new ecological centrifugation technology saves water and minimizes waste-waters. This is a great source for the Mediterranean region that has shortage of water. Many Mediterranean countries have adopted this revolutionary technology.
The ecological centrifugation process acquires more and higher quality olive oil, while the last remains are used for fuel, fertilizers, etc.
While the agricultural olive production is getting more and more labor intensive, the olive oil extraction opens new job prospects.