A report issued by the Greek Consulate in Toronto found that Greece has lost ground in the Canadian olive oil market, having been surpassed by Tunisia.
In the past few years, the North African country has emerged as a strong competitor in the international market with an effective promotion strategy.
Greek olive oil should take advantage of the situation of increased interest for a healthy Mediterranean diet in Canada and project the advantages of authenticity and tradition, and the uniqueness of flavor, acidity and aroma.
The majority of consumers in Canada use domestically-produced canola oil and other vegetable oils, including sunflower, soya and palm oil. However, olive oil has started to surge in popularity due to a turn by consumers to healthier eating patterns.
As a result, Canadians are beginning to develop a taste for the Mediterranean diet and the health benefits it boasts, which are also advocated by the country’s media. Over the last decade, there has been a 26-percent per capita increase in demand for olive oil in Canada at the expense of canola oil, the report said.
Italy dominates the country’s market with a share of around 40 percent, whereas Greece has fallen behind Tunisia, which has become the third larger exporter of olive oil to Canada behind Spain.
In 2020, Canadian imports of virgin olive oil (including extra virgin) increased by 17 percent in value compared with the previous year, while an increase of almost 35 percent in the quantity of imported olive oil was recorded over the same period. The country consumed roughly 60,000 tons of olive oil (including olive pomace oil) in the same year.
On the other hand, imports of Greek olive oil fell by four percent in value in 2020 compared with the previous year, while they increased by eight percent in volume over the same time period.
The declining trajectories of the volume and value of olive oil are evidence of stagnant prices of the Greek olive oil in the Canadian market, the report suggested.
Furthermore, Tunisia has introduced a promotional policy marketing its olive oil as a product of a Mediterranean country with a thousands-years-old tradition in olive oil production and renowned cuisine. Greece, on the other hand, has largely failed to do the same.
While several producers from Greece have managed to put their bottled olive oil on supermarket shelves, a large part of Greek olive oil is still exported to Canada in bulk, undermining any effort to achieve higher prices in the market.
The Covid-19 pandemic also has made consumers in the vast North American country turn to food products with a clean label, meaning they contain no preservatives or artificial colors. Canadian consumers are also increasingly searching out functional foods rich in protein, vitamins and antioxidants, the report noted.
In order for Greek olive oil to gain more ground, a systematic promotion of its qualities and health benefits is required.
The strategy could include in-store promotion and olive oil tasting events, promoting Greek cuisine through culinary television shows and social media marketing, and participating in fairs, exhibitions and gastronomy festivals around Canada.
More importantly, however, Greek olive oil needs to be imprinted on Canadians’ minds as a pure and quality choice for their everyday table, the report concluded.
“Greek olive oil should take advantage of the situation of increased interest for a healthy Mediterranean diet in Canada and project the advantages of authenticity and tradition, and the uniqueness of flavor, acidity and aroma,” the authors of the report wrote, “in order to link them to terms like health, quality and purity in the consumers’ mind.”