` Spanish Olive Oil Continues Push into China - Olive Oil Times

Spanish Olive Oil Continues Push into China

Oct. 12, 2010
Daniel Williams

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By Daniel Williams
Olive Oil Times Contributor | Reporting from Barcelona

Spain con­tin­ues to dom­i­nate the Chinese olive oil mar­ket as an opti­mistic report shows that in 2009 Spanish pro­duc­ers exported more than 10 mil­lion kilos of olive oil to the Asian giant. This rep­re­sents sig­nif­i­cant con­trol in an emerg­ing mar­ket. The study found that, while con­sumers can choose among some 86 dif­fer­ent brands of olive oil in China, only seven have a con­sis­tent pres­ence in the mar­ket and four of these seven olive oil brands are of Spanish origin.

According to a study con­ducted by Andalusían con­sult­ing firm Marlocor, 82% of the olive oil pur­chased by Chinese con­sumers is des­ig­nated extra vir­gin olive oil,
nearly half (49%) of which is from Spain. With respect to the ori­gins of lesser grades of olive oils, Greece and Italy are first and sec­ond respec­tively, although Spanish exports of non-extra vir­gin olive oils to China jumped from 12% in 2008 to 14% in 2009.

Expectations for con­tin­ued growth in Spanish exports to China and else­where are over­whelm­ingly pos­i­tive. According to Rafael Picó, chief direc­tor of Asoliva — a non-profit entity formed by 59 olive oil export­ing com­pa­nies from sev­eral Spanish provinces — Spain shat­tered total olive oil export records dur­ing 2009 – 2010 by reach­ing 770,000 tons. Mr. Picó attrib­uted this to var­i­ous pro­mo­tional cam­paigns and increases in imports from coun­tries such as Australia, Russia, Brazil, the United States, and of course, China.

In order to con­tinue their suc­cess in the Asian region, Spanish pro­duc­ers engage in mar­ket­ing efforts in China with the finan­cial and admin­is­tra­tive sup­port of the Spanish cen­tral gov­ern­ment. The cam­paign to pro­mote Spanish olive oil abroad cen­ters around the Olive Oil From Spain” web­site launched by the Spanish Foreign Trade Institute. This is part of a long-term mar­ket­ing ini­tia­tive which aims to con­vey the image of Spain as the world­wide leader in the pro­duc­tion and mer­chan­dis­ing of olive oil at a time when China con­tin­ues to relax restric­tions on for­eign imports.

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The insti­tute has funded an inten­sive pro­mo­tional cam­paign via Chinese TV which empha­sizes the long term health ben­e­fits of olive oil con­sump­tion and elab­o­rates the advan­tages of cook­ing with olive oil. The pri­mary aim of the ini­tia­tive is to con­vert Chinese con­sumers into habit­ual olive oil users.

This may prove dif­fi­cult. The Marlocor study indi­cates that while 60% of Chinese con­sumers know of olive oil, its health­ful prop­er­ties and supe­rior taste, the low income major­ity con­tin­ues to stick with cheaper options such as peanut, soy or sun­flower oil.

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