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 MADRID,July 22, China Daily -- China is purchasing record amounts of olive oil and helping to stimulate global production, said a leading olive industry organization on Thursday.

Chinese purchases of olive oil rose by 17 percent during the first seven months of the 2016-2017 crop year, according to the Madrid-based World Olive Oil Exhibition (WOOE).

This increase came on the back of a successful 2015-2016 crop year which saw China import over 40,000 metric tons of olive oil.

Spain was the main beneficiary of this increase with 32,100 tons of olive oil exported to China, accounting for 80 percent of China's total imports.

The figure was also three times more than Italy, which exported 13 percent of the total.

Greek olive oil made up of 2 percent of Chinese imports, most of which were of high quality "virgin" or "extra-virgin" olive oil.

"The Chinese climate in general is not Mediterranean as it contains cold, dry winters and wet summers, the land is not especially apt to cultivate olive trees," WOOE said.

However, it said that in China's higher areas such as Sichuan, some olive varieties can be cultivated, the organization suggested.

According to WOOE, China produced around 5,000 tons of olive oil in 2016, and expects to produce about 6,000 tons this year.

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