Gov’t to Increase Olive Oil Imports

Harvested olives are transported right after harvest to an oil production house. (Gili Yaari/Flash90)

The government has announced that it will increase the amount of olive oil that can be imported without duty. Over the next three years, as much as 2,000 tons of olive oil will be imported without taxes or other fees. Added to other amounts already imported or sold without taxes, the total amount of duty-free imported olive oil in the Israeli market will constitute about 35 percent of the 20,000 tons of olive oil used in Israel each year – a substantial amount that is expected to drive down the overall price of olive oil to consumers, the Economy Ministry said.

An agreement on the matter was signed with large Israeli olive growers and local olive oil producers, who see the deal as a way to ensure stability in the market. In recent years, the olive crop in Israel has varied due to varied weather conditions, making it difficult for manufacturers and wholesalers to set prices. The duty on imported olive oil generally amounts to 33 percent of its market price.

Economy and Industry Minister Eli Cohen called the move “a significant step toward lowering the cost of living and for making a healthy and important basic item easier to buy. We will work to ensure that the discount on import duty will reach the pockets of consumers.”

Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel said that “our preference is for oil from Israeli-grown olives, and our objective is to fill the demand with Israeli-made olive oil. But for now, with the agreement of growers and the assistance of the Economy Ministry, we will bring in olive oil to meet local demand.”