`Indian Government Gets Into the Olive Oil Business - Olive Oil Times


Indian Government Gets Into the Olive Oil Business

By Vikas Vij
Sep. 5, 2012 11:35 UTC

Indian government’s wholly-owned com­pany Mother Dairy has chalked up plans to pro­mote olive oil in India. Its flag­ship edi­ble oil brand Dhara’ will soon start to fea­ture refined olive oils from Italy and Spain.

Until now, Dhara has been a mass mar­ket brand in India for locally pro­duced edi­ble oils. With Mother Dairy’s vast urban and rural dis­tri­b­u­tion and sales net­work, Dhara’s new foray will pro­mote olive oil in regions that have so far remained beyond the reach of pri­vate olive oil brands.

Dinesh Agrawal, COO of Dhara, said: Though vol­umes at present are small, the olive oil mar­ket is see­ing 40 per­cent growth annu­ally. It is a pan-India cat­e­gory, with 95 per­cent of busi­ness com­ing from mod­ern trade.” Dhara plans also include intro­duc­ing cot­ton­seed and gin­gelly oil in new regional mar­kets, but it will offer olive oil through­out the coun­try.

Dhara, mar­keted by Mother Dairy, is among India’s top brands of edi­ble oils. It is avail­able through­out the coun­try in its net­work of more than 200,000 retail out­lets and it is rec­og­nized for its afford­abil­ity. For the past more than three decades Mother Dairy has lever­aged the power of farmer coop­er­a­tives in India to pro­vide a wide range of food and milk based prod­ucts for the Indian urban and rural masses.

VN Dalmia, pres­i­dent of the Indian Olive Association (IOA) told Olive Oil Times the gov­ern­ment has tried this before. Mother Dairy, a Government of India pub­lic sec­tor enter­prise, has attempted once before to enter the olive oil mar­ket. They imported extra vir­gin olive oil, bot­tled it in India and attempted to sell it through their dis­tri­b­u­tion net­work. The results were not sat­is­fac­tory and they were left with a lot of unsold stock which they had to liq­ui­date.”

VN Dalmia (right) with mass mar­ket retailer Kishore Biyani

Dalmia, who is chair­man of Dalmia Continental, the com­pany behind the Leonardo olive oil brand, called extra vir­gin olive oil dif­fi­cult to sell” to Indian con­sumers for cook­ing tra­di­tional foods. We wel­come Dhara’s sec­ond com­ing and hope that their entry with refined olive oil will prove more fruit­ful than their pre­vi­ous attempt,” he said.

India’s 1.3 bil­lion peo­ple could stand to use more olive oil. Rates of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease and dia­betes in India are among the world’s high­est, thanks in part to the unhealthy cook­ing oils tra­di­tion­ally used in Indian dishes. Indians con­sume barely a tea­spoon of olive oil per year, on aver­age, but the mar­ket is a focus for major pro­duc­ers.

The Indian mar­ket is still in infancy and there is room for more play­ers, Dalmia said. At the same time, IOA points out that olive oil is not a com­mod­ity and can­not be sold like other com­mod­ity oils.”


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