Some of the oldest olive trees in the world are located in Lebanon. These trees, known as the Sisters, are said to be 6,000 years old, and embody the Olive tree’s entrenched presence in Lebanese identity and folklore.
KEY FACTS AND FIGURES:
In 2018, Olive trees occupied an area of 590 km2 in Lebanon, which represents around 5.6% of the country’s territory, or 9% of total agricultural lands.
Lebanese olive trees are on average 150 years old and are mostly rain-fed (Only 8% of the olive-cultivated area is irrigated, the rest is rain-fed).
Olive production by volume reached 117,413 tons in 2018.
Over the last 45 years, olives have replaced wheat as the top crop by harvest area and demonstrated relative resilience.
Around 70% of the olive trees are destined to the production of olive oil, and the remaining ones are destined to the production of table olives.
The oil productivity of the olives in Lebanon ranges from 18-25%.
Around 41% of olive oil production takes place in the North of Lebanon, followed by Nabatieh with 21% of total production, 15% in the South, 13% in the Bekaa and 10% in Mount Lebanon.
In 2018, olive oil production was estimated at 18,480 tons, growing at a CAGR of 4% for 2011-2018.
In 2019 olive oil exports reached6,930 tons and increased at a CAGR of 7.5% during the period 2012-2019.
Lebanese olive oil was exported primarily to the USA (19.7%), followed by Kuwait (19.5%), Canada (10.2%) and the UAE (10.2%) - with the bloc of Arab countries taking in 50% of total exports (3,452 tons), followed by North America at 30% (2,080 tons).
Olive oil is amongst the most prominent Lebanese signature agro-industrial products, and a proud part of the country's history and culinary tradition.
Lebanon's diverse topography, fertile soil, microclimates, and olive varieties allow farmers to produce uniquely flavored products.
Olive oil is one of the few agro-industries to post an external trade surplus in 2017.
There are growth opportunities in the production of extra virgin olive oil from new varieties of olives such as Barnea (Senolia), Frantoio and other olive varieties obtained through new breeding techniques.
Flavored olive oils with different herbs and spices are becoming popular and represent a good investment opportunity in the Lebanese market.