Buy Olive Futures?

Olive oil from Imperia in Liguria, Italy.

Image via Wikipedia

In the Hutong
Burning up the Keyboard
1500 hrs.

In The Wall Street Journal China RealTime Blog, James Areddy  writes a brilliant article about the role oils play in the Chinese diet, and the challenge this presents Chinese policymakers when the prices of oils rise quickly. What intrigued me most, however, was a throwaway comment about two thirds the way down the page.

To counter the oil shock, Beijing is urging consumers to diversify their tastes and consider their health. According to the Xinhua news agency, “Chefs say olive oil complements Chinese cuisine and you don’t have to worry about sacrificing great taste.

If the central government, via Xinhua, is extolling the virtues of olive oil, what happens when hundreds of millions of Chinese start paying attention? What happens to the price of all of oil, especially the extra-virgin varieties, when hundreds of millions of Chinese families decide to start cooking with olive oil?

Can China become an olive oil producing nation?  Or can the rest of the world ramp up production sufficiently to meet the needs not only of health-conscious Americans and Europeans, but of increasingly prosperous and very hungry Chinese?


About David Wolf

An adviser to corporations and organizations on strategy, communications, and public affairs, David Wolf has been working and living in Beijing since 1995, and now divides his time between China and California. He also serves as a policy and industry analyst focused on innovative and creative industries, a futurist, and an amateur historian.
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2 Responses to Buy Olive Futures?

  1. Gerald says:

    While olive oil is ever more widely available, even here in third-tier China, it does appear that it’s being marketed as more of a luxury oil. So, maybe there’s a chance for high-class production in there, but maybe not for all – even if much of the olive oil one can most easily find is not of high quality and such high cost (there is a great difference going from extra virgin, cold pressed to simply “olive oil”).
    Plus, I find it questionable how well it really fits. Olive oil cannot be heated to nearly as high a temperature as e.g. peanut oil (which admittedly seems ever less common here!), making it rather ill-suited for Chinese cooking.

    Commodities seem a good bet, though, anyways.

  2. elpato says:

    Definitely, the Chinese govt has in essence said that it’s oil industry is f*cked. Olive oil is not or hardly made in China and so has not been tainted by scandal.
    Actually my dear hope is that this would allow the poor palestinian farmers an outlet for their oil, much needed, and would really be a diplomatic win-win for China.

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