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Croatian Olive Oil Producers Feel Pinch in EU

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Croatian olive oil producers are complaining that business has significantly suffered since the country joined the European Union earlier this year.

The reason for the losses they say is because most customers now prefer to opt for olive oil from Spain, Greece and Italy, which is some cases twice as cheap as local Croatian olive oil on the market, reports Al Jazeera. A litre of imported olive oil costs on average about 4 euros, while domestic olive oil sells for around 10 euros.

The report says that the biggest problems local producers have is that on average they have only a hundred olive trees, and poorly organized sales and distribution chains. Croatia has about four million olive trees, and each year produces about five thousand tons of oil, which is not even enough for domestic consumption. Last year Croatia exported only 160 tons of oil worth a million and a half euros, and imported almost 12 times more than that.

“We can produce quality product, but we can not cope with the price which is set now by the market or EU. We would need to produce one tonne of oil just to cover costs,” said Hvar olive oil producer Ivo Lučić.

“The European Union produces more than 70 percent of the total amount of olive oil in the world – mainly thanks to Spain, Greece and Italy. In this competition, Croatian olive oil producers find it difficult to find their way on European, and also Croatian tables,” said Al Jazeera reporter Jasmina Kos.

Croatian olive oil producers say that incentive grants since Croatia joined the EU have not distributed in a fair way. Around one million euro is handed out each year but not based on the quantity of oil, but per hectare, which means the grants are often misused by those just planting olive trees which are not maintained.

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