Table of Contents

1. Overview

  • South Africa consumes around six million litres of olive oil annually. South Africa is a net importer and so prices are linked to import parity prices.
  • The olive industry in South Africa produces less than a third of the oil consumed in the country. It is a small role player in global terms and has the potential to create more than 10 000 permanent jobs and 30 000 seasonal jobs. Imported olive oil is subsidised and cheaper, one of the impediments to creating further employment in this sector.
  • The climate in the Western Cape is ideal for growing olives, especially around towns like Paarl, Robertson and Montagu. Olives can also be produced in certain summer rainfall areas, under irrigation, as happens in Hartswater in the Northern Cape. Harvesting can be done mechanically or by hand. The latter yields a better product but is more labour intensive.
  • Olive farming is a long-term investment, with a return on investment only showing four to five years after planting.
  • Olives are an important crop for South Africa having high growth potential while also being labour intensive (Sihlobo, 2018).


2. International business environment

    • World consumption of olive oil is between 3,1 and 3,2 million tons per year.
    • The largest producers in the world are Spain, Tunisia and Italy. Other major producers are Morocco, Greece, Algeria, Egypt, Portugal, Syria and Turkey.

Find information at:

South Africa: imports and exports

Local production of olive oil only satisfies a third of consumption in South Africa, with the rest needing to be imported. South African producers who export their product focus their efforts on the USA which is the biggest importer of olive oils. Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and the Nordics are SA farmers’ next target, followed by the Middle East, China and Japan (Lemmer, 2017).


3. For the newcomer

Find grower notes on the websites of several role players e.g. and


4. Role players


  • SA Olive Industry Association (SA Olive) Tel: 021 870 2900 Find information on the Commitment to Compliance (CTC) seal on the website.

Government contact

  • National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC) Tel: 012 341 1115 Statutory levies for the olive and other agricultural sectors are processed here.