Till the last year the Japanese demand for olive oil was seemingly a deepening sink. While the international trade in 2008 and 2009 was falling (with some exception), the Japanese olive oil imports were flowrishing. As showed in figure 1, the growth rate reached the roof of a +31.6% in 2010, and Japan was the 7th market in the world wall of fame of olive oil importers. The beginnig of 2011 stopped this favourable season. Comparing the first 5 months in 2011 and 2010, the Japanese olive oil imports decreased by a severe -10%.
The most likely reason could be addressed to the Tsunami disaster (see our previous post) and to the economic crisis that invested also this share of Asia. Turkey and Spain suffered the most for this debacle, leaving on the ground a -28.3% and a -17% respectively, while the Italian exports to Japan lost "only" a -6% (all variations are reffered to values of trade flows). Italy was probably helped by its higher quality product, as the average export price seems to suggest.
These figures could open interesting opportunities for the Italian exporters: beyond the shadow there could be light. Their "resistance" not only indicates a favorable consensus of the Japanese consumers' preferences, known to be picky toward quality and to prefer organic to conventional food (will this attitude increase as a consequence of the fear for the nuclear contamination?) but also the chance to regain market shares taking advantage of their direct competitors' debacle. All in all, figure 3 shows us that the Italian olive oil exports to Japan are slowly, but continuously, driving toward the 2007 level.