` VN Dalmia Offers an Olive Oil Reality Check - Olive Oil Times

VN Dalmia Offers an Olive Oil Reality Check

Dec. 4, 2011
Curtis Cord

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While debate swirls around how to ensure the qual­ity of extra vir­gin olive oil in the United States, Europe and else­where, con­sumers in India are get­ting an entirely dif­fer­ent mes­sage.

In a new cam­paign rolled out by the coun­try’s largest olive oil mar­keter, it’s the low­est edi­ble grade — one that can’t even legally be called olive oil” in most places — that Indians should turn to for a health­ier diet: Introducing the only major cam­paign in the world to pro­mote olive pomace oil.

It’s all under the direc­tion of VN Dalmia, 57, son of pio­neer indus­tri­al­ist Ramkrishna Dalmia, and the chair­man of Dalmia Continental, the com­pany behind Leonardo Olive Oil.

He is the pres­i­dent of the Indian Olive Association, a for­mer pres­i­dent of the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce, a trustee at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia, and a Knight Commander of Italy for his con­tri­bu­tion to the devel­op­ment of friendly rela­tions. I am con­scious of my respon­si­bil­i­ties and weigh my words care­fully as I speak,” he told Olive Oil Times.

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Dalmia has been crit­i­cized for choos­ing to con­cen­trate mar­ket­ing efforts on the low­est oil grade but he says his crit­ics have it all wrong. Criticism is mis­con­ceived and dis­plays a lack of under­stand­ing of the real­i­ties of the Indian mar­ket­place,” he said.

We have var­i­ous com­pa­nies, asso­ci­a­tions, con­sor­tia and even the IOC try­ing to intro­duce new Mediterranean’ and other diets, new tastes, etc. and con­cur­rently telling us that (extra vir­gin) tastes bet­ter.’ This is akin to tak­ing coconut oil to Italy or Spain and telling them that their food would taste bet­ter if cooked in coconut oil or, for that mat­ter, mus­tard oil to France and propos­ing the same to them! Good mar­ket­ing con­sists of deter­min­ing and giv­ing the cus­tomer what she wants and needs rather than try­ing to shove your prod­uct down her throat and tell her what is bet­ter for her.”

After press­ing olives into oil, what’s left is the residue called pomace: the solid remains of the olive includ­ing skins, pulp, seeds, and stems. There is such a lit­tle amount of oil left in the pomace that it can­not be extracted by press­ing, but only through indus­trial refin­ing includ­ing the use of chem­i­cal sol­vents (like hexane), extremely high heat and deodor­iza­tion.

Olive pomace oil is used by insti­tu­tional food ser­vices, restau­rants and pizze­rias. It is often picked up by unwit­ting shop­pers swayed by the roman­tic pack­ag­ing with its mis­lead­ing word­ing and low price — unaware that they’re not actu­ally buy­ing olive oil at all.

It’s the olive pomace grade that Dalmia empha­sizes in a new mass-mar­ket cam­paign in India under the slo­gan Go Indiano.”

We decided to focus on Indian cui­sine and daily use because that is where the vol­ume would come from. We intro­duced Leonardo Olive Pomace Oil because of the way Indian food is pre­pared,” Dalmia said. Everyday Indian food involves high-heat cook­ing. Extra vir­gin olive oil pre­sented prob­lems with fry­ing: it was unsta­ble at high tem­per­a­tures and it imparted an olive fla­vor to the food and thus changed the taste. As a result, peo­ple who tried it con­cluded that olive oil was unsuit­able for Indian cook­ing and aban­doned it. Olive pomace oil pre­sented none of these prob­lems.”

Abandoned is right. In a 2008 inter­view, Dalmia pre­dicted con­sump­tion of olive oil in India would reach 25,000 tons in 2010, and 42,000 tons in 2012 — fore­casts that turned out to be way off. Last year the total was 4,000 tons, this year it might be 6,000 — incred­i­bly small num­bers for 1.2 bil­lion peo­ple. It would equal about 1/4 of a table­spoon per year for the aver­age Indian, or about one-ten-thou­sandth of what the typ­i­cal Greek con­sumes — or less than one-hun­dredth of the aver­age American.

Jean-Louis Barjol, the exec­u­tive direc­tor of the International Olive Council has called the results in India a dis­ap­point­ment,” and has since put the IOC’s lim­ited pro­mo­tional dol­lars to work else­where.

Meanwhile, Dalmia Continental has announced a plan to spend Rs. 60 crores ($13 mil­lion) on get­ting the word out, and it is invit­ing investors to come along for the ride. We have sev­eral offers for par­tic­i­pa­tion in our growth equity and are eval­u­at­ing the pro­pos­als. We shall make announce­ments shortly,” VN Dalmia said.

Dalmia’s $13 mil­lion cam­paign dwarfs the $1.7 mil­lion the International Olive Council hopes will have an impact in the world’s biggest mar­ket. And the dif­fer­ences just get starker from there.

The IOC’s North American olive oil pro­mo­tional cam­paign was launched at a small Lincoln Center photo op that coin­cided with New York’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, fea­tur­ing EVOO cock­tails and an aspi­ra­tional mes­sage that likened olive oil to the lit­tle black dress.”

While in India, the cam­paign is aimed at get­ting peo­ple to move up from unhealthy seed oils by explain­ing that olive oil does­n’t have to be expen­sive: By using olive pomace oil and reusing it up to three times,” olive oil’s famous health ben­e­fits can be obtained afford­ably and with­out alter­ing the taste of tra­di­tional India dishes, the pitch goes.

We should not waste time and energy in crit­i­ciz­ing dif­fer­ent grades of olive oil or each other,” Dalmia sug­gested. ” Olive oil purists, in their zeal to pro­mote the ben­e­fits and taste of extra vir­gin, miss the point, he said. Internecine squab­bling will not serve to grow the world mar­ket.”

Olive Oil Times con­tribut­ing writer Vikas Vij acknowl­edged the dif­fer­ent mar­ket seg­ments and what dri­ves their deci­sions: Health is the pri­mary con­cern of urban Indians, and they will need a sci­en­tific assur­ance that olive pomace oil is at least not worse’ than their exist­ing cook­ing oils in terms of health,” Vij said from Delhi adding, how­ever, rural and less afflu­ent Indians may opt for olive pomace oil due to eco­nomic com­pul­sions if it is effec­tively cheaper than other cook­ing oils.”

Nidhi Jhingan, a 39-year-old pro­fes­sional and mar­ried mother of two chil­dren in Delhi won­ders if the approach employed by Dalmia and oth­ers might prove to be short­sighted: Olive pomace oil may ini­tially sell due to con­sumer con­fu­sion about the dif­fer­ence between pomace oils and higher grades. That is not a sus­tain­able strat­egy in the long-term. It is bet­ter to present sci­en­tific facts and com­par­isons with other tra­di­tional Indian cook­ing oils, and let the con­sumer make an informed choice. Consumer edu­ca­tion about extra vir­gin and pomace oils is crit­i­cal for any respon­si­ble Indian olive oil pro­ducer as well as the gov­ern­ment. ”

Of course with big risks come big rewards. We agree that olive oil con­sump­tion in this giant coun­try is minus­cule but are encour­aged by the poten­tial,” Dalmia said, but he admit­ted he’s not alone: This notion that a quick buck can be made by import­ing a con­tainer of olive oil has been the sure road to ruin for many and cre­ates havoc in the mar­ket. However, a slow process of con­sol­i­da­tion is tak­ing place, a few brands are gain­ing promi­nence and I expect that many brands will fall by the way-side in the next 2 years.”

Meanwhile, India is a mess when it comes to health and VN Dalmia thinks olive pomace oil is one prod­uct that can reverse the deadly trend: India ranks as World No.1 in car­diac patients. More than 100 mil­lion peo­ple in India suf­fer from heart dis­ease. 31 per­cent of urban Indians are either over­weight or obese. 140 mil­lion peo­ple in India have high blood pres­sure,” Dalmia said. Over 40 per­cent of urban Indians have high lipid lev­els. India is the dia­betic cap­i­tal of the world with an esti­mated 51 mil­lion peo­ple affected. The sit­u­a­tion is already a national emer­gency. We need a healthy oil. Olive oil, includ­ing olive pomace oil, is the world’s health­i­est edi­ble oil.”

Olive Oil Times: Indians are inter­ested in olive oil. We know this because around 10 per­cent of the read­ers of Olive Oil Times are in India. Why do you think there is this high level of inter­est?

VN Dalmia: There exists a highly edu­cated and cul­tured super-elite in India which, though an infi­nitely small per­cent­age, ends up com­pris­ing a large’ num­ber given our total pop­u­la­tion of 1.2 bil­lion.

The rea­son lies in the fact that with ris­ing pur­chas­ing power, edu­ca­tion and world travel, Indians are becom­ing increas­ingly exposed to new con­cepts in health and cook­ing. The West switched to olive oil in the 90s. As Indians trav­eled abroad increas­ingly, it was a mat­ter of time before they became aware of the ben­e­fits of olive oil.

The national health sit­u­a­tion is also mak­ing more peo­ple inter­ested in healthy edi­ble oils.

Are you involved in any olive cul­ti­va­tion project in India? What do you think of these ini­tia­tives?

No. We are not agri­cul­tur­ists and olive cul­ti­va­tion would require a great deal of back­ward inte­gra­tion. The next stage for us in back­ward link­ages would be pack­ing or bot­tling. After that would be refin­ing and blend­ing, then press­ing and after that, grow­ing. My com­pany is a mar­ket­ing and dis­tri­b­u­tion com­pany.

However, I strongly sup­port olive cul­ti­va­tion in India and am very enthused by the project in Rajasthan.

Please describe your rela­tion­ship with the International Olive Council.

As the President of the Indian Olive Association, I am invited to meet­ings of the Advisory Committee of the IOC. The Indian Olive Association is a sig­na­tory to the Quality Control Agreement of the International Olive Council and hence, I also attend these meet­ings.

When we first saw your Go Indiano” adver­tise­ment, we were sur­prised to see the oil in the pic­ture was olive pomace oil. You have been crit­i­cized for pro­mot­ing olive pomace oil more than other grades (for exam­ple the olive oil” grade). Can you please explain why you have decided on this strat­egy?

Leonardo has two extra vir­gins — reg­u­lar and gold — and an olive oil, all of which we pro­mote to tar­get cus­tomers through suit­able media and chan­nels. Olive pomace oil was selected for the mass media cam­paign. These are early days. The cam­paign will develop.

Criticism is actu­ally mis­con­ceived and dis­plays a lack of under­stand­ing of the real­i­ties of the Indian mar­ket-place. Leonardo was the first to rec­og­nize the actual needs of the Indian con­sumer.

When we entered the mar­ket in 2003, total imports were barely 500 tonnes and mostly olive oil. The brands were all imported and sold to con­sumers for body mas­sage or, to a lesser extent, Italian cui­sine. There was no pro­mo­tion or edu­ca­tion about prod­uct or usage.

When Leonardo entered, we decided to focus on Indian cui­sine and daily use because that is where the vol­ume would come from. We intro­duced Leonardo Olive Pomace Oil because of the way Indian food is pre­pared. Everyday Indian food involves high-heat cook­ing. Extra vir­gin olive oil pre­sented prob­lems with fry­ing: it was unsta­ble at high tem­per­a­tures (smoke point 180 degrees C) and it imparted an olive fla­vor to the food and thus changed the taste. As a result, peo­ple who tried it con­cluded that olive oil was unsuit­able for Indian cook­ing and aban­doned it. Olive pomace oil pre­sented none of these prob­lems.

The Indian con­sumer uses oil to cook, not to fla­vor. Olive pomace oil is neu­tral in fla­vor and has a high smoke point (238 degrees C). In India, oil goes into the pan first as the basic cook­ing medium. The seed oils that find favor with Indians are much cheaper than even olive pomace oil. While we try to edu­cate Indians about the usage of olive oils in 1/3 to 1/2 the quan­tity of other oils, the cost dif­fer­en­tial is still so high that Indians balk at switch­ing. Olive pomace oil is already 3 – 4 times the cost of the most com­mon seed oils used in mid­dle-class homes like sun­flower oil, for exam­ple. To ask them to switch to olive oil, 6 to 7 times more expen­sive, for every­day use, would be propos­ing the impos­si­ble to con­sumers and they would reject such a pro­posal at sight.

Leonardo launched olive oil (smoke point 220 degrees C) almost two whole years later for Western cui­sine and body mas­sage. Hence, Leonardo pro­posed clear prod­uct seg­men­ta­tion: high-end extra vir­gin for raw use as dress­ing and fla­vor­ing, inter­me­di­ate olive oil for light cook­ing as in Western cui­sine and body mas­sage and the cheap­est oil, olive pomace oil, for every­day cook­ing use. This seg­men­ta­tion found accep­tance and defines the Indian mar­ket today.

Leonardo’s pric­ing strat­egy was very clear. We would reduce con­sumer prices in order to expand the mar­ket. Before us, importers sold var­i­ous brands at very high mar­gin and had low vol­umes. Our aim was to make the prod­uct acces­si­ble to expand the mar­ket. So, at launch, we brought down prices in the mar­ket as fol­lows:

• 1 ltr. extra vir­gin from Rs. 750 to Rs. 530 ($10.37 to $14.68)

• 1 ltr. pure olive oil (two years later) from Rs.650 to Rs.460 ($9.00 to $12.72)

• 1 ltr. olive pomace oil from Rs.500 to Rs.270 ($5.28 to $9.78)

Subsequently, prices have fluc­tu­ated as per global prices and mar­ket­ing strate­gies.

There are other issues: we have var­i­ous com­pa­nies, asso­ci­a­tions, con­sor­tia and even the IOC try­ing to intro­duce new Mediterranean’ and other diets, new tastes, etc. and con­cur­rently telling us that EV tastes bet­ter”. This is akin to tak­ing coconut oil to Italy or Spain and telling them that their food would taste bet­ter if cooked in coconut oil or for that mat­ter, mus­tard oil to France and propos­ing the same to them! Good mar­ket­ing con­sists of deter­min­ing and giv­ing the cus­tomer what she wants and needs rather than try­ing to shove your prod­uct down her throat and tell her what is bet­ter for her.

In addi­tion, as your read­ers are aware I am sure, the new Australian stan­dards have for­bid­den the use of the term Extra Light’. IOC itself does not have a cat­e­gory such as Extra Light. Extra Light is an immensely mis­lead­ing term and leads the con­sumer to believe that the oil is some­how less in calo­ries and lighter in con­tent. As you know well, this is not the case. As you must know, Extra Light is merely olive oil with a lower than nor­mal per­cent­age of a blended vir­gin. Despite the lower per­cent­age of vir­gin, the price of Extra Light is not much cheaper than olive oil. I won­der why you and your read­ers don’t speak out against this clear mis-label­ing and con­sumer mal­prac­tice.

You have been the pres­i­dent of the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce, you are a trustee of Darden, and an inter­na­tional busi­ness­man. You must know that if you tried to pro­mote olive pomace oil in the United States, you would not get a favor­able response. Pomace is bet­ter than what Indians have used, but it is not as healthy as other grades — which would also be suit­able for Indian cook­ing. It is all a mat­ter of cost? Why should Indians cook with a lower grade than Americans, Europeans or Australians?

I am also a Commendatore or Knight Commander of Italy. I am con­scious of my respon­si­bil­i­ties and weigh my words care­fully as I speak.

The most com­mon cook­ing oils used in India are seed oils. Olive pomace oil has a vastly bet­ter fat com­po­si­tion than seed oils. It has the same high monoun­sat­u­rated fat as olive oil and vir­gin oil, the same low sat­u­rated fat and the same per­cent­ages of oleic acid with the same atten­dant health ben­e­fits. The only dif­fer­ence is that it is sol­vent-extracted, but so are all the seed oils. So, if you are com­par­ing with seed oils, olive pomace oil is a vast improve­ment.

Most seed oils, in addi­tion, have low monoun­sat­u­rated fat, high poly-unsat­u­rated fat and higher sat­u­rated fat than all grades of olive oil. High PUFA oils are more vul­ner­a­ble to lipid per­ox­i­da­tion (ran­cid­ity). This is espe­cially impor­tant in high tem­per­a­tures as in India. High PUFA oils also present prob­lems in any extended fry­ing. High MUFA oils are much more sta­ble in terms of both ran­cid­ity and fry­ing needs.

Leonardo does not pro­pose olive pomace oil as a sub­sti­tute for extra vir­gin oil or olive oil. Olive pomace oil is a sub­sti­tute for sun­flower, mus­tard, peanut and other seed oils.

Actually, olive pomace oil is exported in decent quan­ti­ties even to the US. I could ascer­tain the num­bers but sev­eral com­pa­nies told me that it formed more than 10 per­cent of their exports to the US. More than 100,000 tonnes of olive pomace oil are pro­duced annu­ally world­wide and the quan­tity con­sumed in India is only a small per­cent­age of world pro­duc­tion. Do you know that even in an essen­tially extra vir­gin pro­duc­ing coun­try like Greece, 17 per­cent of their domes­tic con­sump­tion of branded olive oil is olive pomace oil? In Italy, olive pomace oil is used for the prepa­ra­tion of taralli’ and focac­cia’, a typ­i­cal south­ern pizza, and for fry­ing. It is all a mat­ter of whether you are look­ing at it top-down or bot­tom-up, i.e. as an upgrade from seed oils or a down-grade from vir­gin.

Leonardo is the early leader in India, but the total olive oil con­sump­tion of this giant coun­try is still very small. What is the biggest chal­lenge you face to pop­u­lar­ize olive oil use among Indians?

The chal­lenges are as fol­lows:

- To over­come the impres­sion that olive oil is essen­tially a mas­sage oil. To edu­cate con­sumers that it is an edi­ble oil.

- To edu­cate con­sumers that it is suit­able for Indian cook­ing.

- To edu­cate con­sumers about the health ben­e­fits.

- To over­come con­sumer resis­tance to a vastly higher price.

We agree that olive oil con­sump­tion in this giant coun­try is minis­cule but are encour­aged by the poten­tial. In terms of num­bers, we do not agree with the aggre­gates of 300 mil­lion per­sons for a tar­get uni­verse of the Upper Middle Class (UMC) and Upper Class (UC) pop­u­la­tion in India bandied about by the World Bank and the like. Our esti­mates of the Indian UMC and UC, more or less con­sis­tent with sev­eral seri­ous stud­ies, are much more real­is­tic and con­ser­v­a­tive. We esti­mate the UMC and UC pop­u­la­tion at about 55 mil­lion cur­rently. We define our UMC seg­ment to be within an income range of US $ 10,000 to 20,000 per annum and our UC to be above US$20,000 per annum. Branded oil, as a per­cent of all oils sold in India, is a mere 10 – 12 per­cent of the mar­ket, and demand for branded oils is grow­ing at about 10 per­cent per annum. Per capita con­sump­tion of edi­ble oil in India is a mere 10 kg per annum. Olive oil is an infin­i­tes­i­mally small per­cent­age of branded oil and its poten­tial is, thus, vast.

Assuming that olive oil for edi­ble pur­poses, con­sumed by both insti­tu­tions and indi­vid­ual con­sumers is 2,000 tonnes or 2 mil­lion liters (50 per­cent of total imports in 2010, the rest being an esti­mate of oil for mas­sage use) and assum­ing that the aver­age house­hold con­sump­tion of olive oil in UMC and UC house­holds is 1 liter per month or 12 liters per annum, cur­rently, olive oil is used by 166,667 house­holds or 833,333 per­sons. On a con­ser­v­a­tive basis, this is the num­ber of olive oil con­sumers in India and this num­ber is shame­fully small!

For the future, Leonardo agrees with the growth rate, pre­dicted by the same seri­ous stud­ies, of UMC house­holds at 18 per­cent and UC house­holds at 21.5 per­cent. Our tar­get uni­verse presently is 55 mil­lion per­sons or 10 mil­lion house­holds. Our tar­get is to have 20 per­cent of this uni­verse or 11 mil­lion per­sons or 2 mil­lion house­holds con­sum­ing olive oil. At a rate of 12 liters per annum per house­hold, this trans­lates to a demand of 24 mil­lion liters or 24,000 tonnes per annum, a respectable size indeed. But we can achieve this only through a sus­tained and united effort if we all work together.

Indians are fac­ing a health cri­sis – like in other coun­tries – from mod­ern stresses and lack of exer­cise. Are you con­cerned about this trend? What should be done about this?

India ranks as World No.1 in car­diac patients with 10 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion affected. The US and Europe are jointly No.2 with 7 per­cent each. WHO expects heart dis­ease to be the sin­gle great­est killer in India by 2015. More than 100 mil­lion peo­ple in India suf­fer from heart dis­ease. The high­est growth of heart dis­ease is among young cor­po­rate exec­u­tives. Additionally, 31 per­cent of urban Indians are either over­weight or obese. 140 mil­lion peo­ple in India have high blood pres­sure. Over 40 per­cent of urban Indians have high lipid lev­els. 140 mil­lion peo­ple in India have high blood pres­sure – 14 per­cent of world patients & 26 per­cent of the Indian pop­u­la­tion. Over 40 per­cent of urban Indians have high lipid lev­els. India is the dia­betic cap­i­tal of the world with an esti­mated 51 mil­lion peo­ple affected. The sit­u­a­tion is already a national emer­gency. We need a healthy oil. Olive oil (includ­ing olive pomace oil) is the world’s health­i­est edi­ble oil.

Heart dis­ease, to a large extent, is a lifestyle dis­ease as are dia­betes and hyper­ten­sion. As the national health sit­u­a­tion is already an emer­gency, the need of the hour is to pro­mote a pre­ven­tive lifestyle to the gen­eral pub­lic. What is required is edu­ca­tion at a mass level start­ing at pri­mary school about lifestyle dis­eases, their causes, and meth­ods of pre­ven­tion. A pre­ven­tive lifestyle includes diet and exer­cise. A sig­nif­i­cant com­po­nent of any healthy diet is a high MUFA oil. The Ministry of Health is talk­ing about a cam­paign to com­bat lifestyle dis­eases. State gov­ern­ments also need to be involved. Meals pro­vided by the Government to chil­dren must be pre­pared in healthy oils. Extensive ad and edu­ca­tional cam­paigns must be launched. Olive oil must be included in such cam­paigns as a healthy, high MUFA oil.

You are invit­ing investors to join in your expan­sion ini­tia­tives. How is that going so far?

Very well. We have sev­eral offers for par­tic­i­pa­tion in our growth equity and are eval­u­at­ing the pro­pos­als. We shall make announce­ments shortly.

Is Borges your biggest com­peti­tor? How are you doing against them?

No, Borges is not. There are oth­ers who have been estab­lished in India longer than Borges. However, we wel­come wor­thy com­peti­tors like Borges. As they are cor­po­ra­tized, they belong to the orga­nized sec­tor. Their mar­ket­ing ini­tia­tives, like ours, will serve to grow the mar­ket. It is the small importers who import to make a quick buck that end up spoil­ing the mar­ket. Every importer and his cousin gets the smart” idea of import­ing olive oil. As it is dif­fi­cult to list a new brand in mod­ern trade due to heavy list­ing fees or to place it in tra­di­tional retail due to non-accep­tance of an unknown brand, they are unable to sell their prod­uct and end up liq­ui­dat­ing stock at crazy dis­counts, in effect sell­ing even below cost. This notion that a quick buck can be made by import­ing a con­tainer of olive oil has been the sure road to ruin for many and cre­ates havoc in the mar­ket. However, a slow process of con­sol­i­da­tion is tak­ing place, a few brands are gain­ing promi­nence and I expect that many brands will fall by the way-side in the next 2 years. With grad­ual com­modi­ti­za­tion, mar­gins will also reduce and con­sol­i­da­tion will occur.

We work together with Borges and oth­ers in the Indian Olive Association. At the moment, Leonardo is by far the largest importer of olive oil in the edi­ble seg­ment (as opposed to the mas­sage seg­ment).

Sir, what would you say to our read­ers – peo­ple around the world who are olive oil con­sumers, healthy cook­ing enthu­si­asts and olive indus­try pro­fes­sion­als?

I’d like to empha­size to my col­leagues in the indus­try and to your read­ers that the real chal­lenge in India is to grow the mar­ket. We should not waste time and energy in crit­i­ciz­ing dif­fer­ent grades of olive oil or each other. The con­sump­tion was a mere 4,000 tonnes last year and is expected to be 6,000 tonnes this year bar­ring unfore­seen eco­nomic events. These num­bers are just too small and not wor­thy of a nation such as India. Once the total con­sump­tion grows to a respectable level and once a respectable pro­por­tion of our 1.2 bil­lion pop­u­la­tion is aware of olive oil, per­haps we can begin to pro­mote dif­fer­ent grades, deride each oth­ers’ prod­ucts and upgrade con­sumers to higher grades of olive oil. It is too early right now in the devel­op­ment of our mar­ket to waste time in fight­ing each other.

Furthermore, the total pro­duc­tion of olive oil in the world is 3+ mil­lion tonnes. The total con­sump­tion of edi­ble oil in India alone is above 15 mil­lion tonnes. You can imag­ine what is the total con­sump­tion of edi­ble oil in the world includ­ing China. The chal­lenge really is to spread aware­ness of the ben­e­fits of olive oil so that world­wide con­sump­tion of this healthy edi­ble oil and healthy cook­ing habits grow and that olive oil becomes a greater pro­por­tion of oil in gen­eral use.

Olive oil purists, in their zeal to pro­mote the ben­e­fits and taste of Extra Virgin, miss the point. Already, pro­duc­ers in Spain are suf­fer­ing because they are unable to sell their prod­ucts. This year, there will be increases of pro­duc­tion in Turkey, Tunisia, Argentina and oth­ers. While pro­duc­tion in Greece and Italy is expected to decline, total pro­duc­tion will grow. Internecine squab­bling will not serve to grow the world mar­ket.

Olive Oil Times is doing a yeo­man job of spread­ing the word. I encour­age you and your read­ers to take for­ward and spread an enlight­ened view as well as the big pic­ture.

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