Dalmia Continental, which sells olive oil under Leonardo brand, today said India’s olive oil import could increase by 30 per cent to 9,360 tonnes in the current fiscal, with demand growing due to rising awareness about health benefits of the cooking oil.

“In the 2011-12 financial year, total imports of olive oil stood at 7,200 tonnes. This year, imports are expected to grow by 25-30 per cent,” Dalmia Continental, Assistant General Manager, Himani Dalmia said at an event here.

Import of olive oil in volume terms has been growing at a fast pace due to a rise in demand following greater awareness among consumers about health benefits and usage in everyday cooking, she said.

India largely imports from Spain, Italy and Turkey.

She attributed the rise in the awareness level about olive oils in India to the launch of a three-year campaign ’Oliveitup’ by an Italian organisation Consortium of Guarantee of Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVC) that completed today.

“Earlier, consumers used to think olive oil was used only for massage purpose. But now, this perception is changing and the oil is being used for cooking purpose,” Dalmia said.

The awareness about different kinds of olive oils and its usage clearly reflects in India’s imports. For instance, the share of ‘olive oil’, used for massage purpose, has been declining, while ‘olive pomace oil’ variety used for high temperature cooking has been growing, she explained.

Even the import of ‘extra virgin olive oil’, which is used in salad and pasta making, has been on the rise.

In the last three years, Consortium of Guarantee of Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil has made efforts to reach out to untapped markets to educate Indian consumers about the nutritional benefits of olive oils of European origin.

The top 3 brands in the domestic market, which together control more than 60 per cent of retail sales, are Leonardo, Figaro and Borges (including Cesar).

Some other prominent brands include RS, Bertolli, Del Monte, Fragata, Colavita and Athena.

(This article was published on February 20, 2013)
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