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The population continues to grow: We already number 8 billion people in the world

Welcome to 8 billion inhabitants of the world, that was the number that was reached on 15 November 2022, a day that will go down in history.

The world is growing at an unprecedented rate. In the past two centuries, we’ve seen our population skyrocket from 1 billion to 8 billion people. Along with this population boom, so has olive oil industry and consumption boomed. According to the International Olive Council, olive oil consumption almost doubled from 1991 to 2021. A growth which is projected to continue as more countries adopt healthy dietary guidelines that include olive oil as one of its core ingredients.

But can this industry keep up with a rapidly increasing population? With such dramatic population growth comes concerns about sustainability, food security, and agricultural supply.

Fortunately, the olive oil industry is well-positioned to respond to these challenges. As one of the oldest industries in the world, it has a long history of adapting to new circumstances and innovations.  Olive trees have been around since ancient times—the first cultivation of this crop is believed to have occurred more than 5,000 years ago. As population numbers rose over the centuries, so did demand for both food sources and sustenance. Over time, the cultivation of olive trees spread all over the world, from Europe to North Africa and beyond. In response, producers increased productivity by planting more trees, using better technologies, organic fertilizers, and drip irrigation to conserve water, as well as cultivating different varieties that can mature faster. Such evolution of the industry has helped ensure that olives and olive oil can continue to be a viable food source for the world’s ever-growing population.

Further to production, the future of olive oil is bright because it is used across a wide range of cultures, from Italy to India and beyond. In fact, non-EU countries such as China and India are among the fastest-growing markets. With popularity that transcends continents and countries and wide recognition as one of the healthiest cooking oils available—olive oil has a place at the table not just a food staple but as a key player in keeping our massive population healthy.

The bottom line: Olive oil has an exciting future ahead with our ever-growing population. Its long-standing history, modern adaptability, and growing sustainability measures make it well-suited to meet the growing demand for healthy food items around the world.

As we anticipate welcoming our 9 billionth inhabitant in the near future, it’s important to consider how olives and olive oil can play a role in feeding and keeping us healthy. Estimates suggest that our next billionth milestone could occur as early as 2050, which is why sustainable practices are so important for ensuring long-term growth of the industry. Here’s to many more centuries of success for one of our oldest food commodities.