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Spanish Olive Oil Exploring Other Worlds

Oct. 8, 2013
Olivarama

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It already speaks Chinese. Brazilian too. Our prized extra vir­gin olive oil has become an exam­ple of mul­ti­lin­gual prowess. And only because its ben­e­fits are rec­og­nized by those inhab­i­tants from other coun­tries who, rather than dress­ing their sal­ads or pair­ing it with their recipes, are inter­ested in stay­ing healthy.

Oriental and Brazilian palates just love this gas­tro­nomic gem and do not hes­i­tate to link its ori­gins to our coun­try. At least this is the per­cep­tion OLIVARAMA got after vis­it­ing the China International Olive Oil Exhibition 2013, in Guangzhou, and SIAL, in Brazil.

Spanish olive oil is cur­rently sold in over 140 coun­tries from all five con­ti­nents. Its world-wide renown is on the increase and, in recent years, in emerg­ing mar­kets such as China and Brazil it has become far stronger. This is con­firmed by var­i­ous stud­ies con­ducted by national bod­ies such as the Spanish International Chamber of Commerce (ICEX) or the Interprofesional del Aceite de Oliva Español, which show that this food­stuff is highly acclaimed by con­sumers in both coun­tries, mainly, due to its quality.

This sit­u­a­tion arises from an obses­sion with health that char­ac­ter­izes both the Chinese and the Brazilian peo­ple, who pri­or­i­tize the mul­ti­ple ben­e­fits it offers the body when acquir­ing this product.

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According to the Chinese Customs Authorities, up until June the Asian coun­try had bought 10,302 tonnes of Spanish oils, rep­re­sent­ing a growth of 27.50 per­cent com­pared to the same period the pre­vi­ous year, in 2012. For its part, Brazilian imports also grew by 18.84 per­cent, to 8,735 tonnes.

Clearly, Made in Spain is tri­umph­ing beyond our bor­ders. Sales of our oil are more than just extra­or­di­nary. Spain is posi­tioned among the main providers of liq­uid gold in the world and yet, this is still a great unknown among the major­ity of the coun­try’s inhabitants.

This is why Olivarama, in its tour of var­i­ous cities all over the world, made a stop in these coun­tries this year in order to spread the word about the jewel of our gas­tron­omy. Last June, we vis­ited the China International Olive Oil Exhibition 2013, held in Guangzhou. At the end of the same month, we attended SIAL Brazil, in Sao Paulo.

More knowl­edge, more consumption

The International Olive Council (IOC) fore­sees that in the 2012/13 cam­paign, olive oil con­sump­tion may increase to around 10,000 tonnes in China (twen­ti­eth in the world rank­ing of olive oil con­sump­tion and sev­enth biggest olive oil importer in terms of vol­ume); and 70,000 tonnes in Brazil (our sec­ond biggest client on the American con­ti­nent and ninth world buyer of national oils).

Possibly the most effec­tive tool for dri­ving these fig­ures is pro­mo­tion. Promotional cam­paigns aimed at the end con­sumer that under­line the ver­sa­til­ity of this ingre­di­ent in the kitchen, it’s cul­tural roots, its link to tourism and, it goes with­out say­ing, its organolep­tic prop­er­ties which ulti­mately increase the num­ber of fans to unsus­pected heights.

This is some­thing Olivarama knows all about, as wher­ever it goes it praises the Spanish har­vests, or rather the extra vir­gins which are so lov­ingly pro­duced by the national pro­duc­ers. And we did so in both of the afore­men­tioned scenarios.

Of enor­mous inter­na­tional repute, both the Guangzhou event and that in Sao Paula project a very pos­i­tive image of the future evo­lu­tion of Mediterranean diet icon in their respec­tive mar­kets. This is pre­cisely why Olivarama decided to get more deeply involved in both fairs with a view to fos­ter­ing inter­est in our national juices among pro­fes­sion­als and end consumers.

Two des­ti­na­tions, one sen­so­r­ial pleasure

In China, mid­dle-class inhab­i­tants do not reg­u­larly use olive oil, except in spe­cific cases, although they per­ceive it as a gourmet food, for cos­metic or even med­i­c­i­nal use. In this coun­try, Spain’s posi­tion as the lead­ing olive oil pro­ducer, the sig­nif­i­cant efforts made by com­pa­nies and insti­tu­tions of the sec­tor to pro­mote the prod­uct, and the dom­i­nant pres­ence of olive oil on shelves have all con­tributed to strength­en­ing the image of this sen­so­r­ial pleasure.

According to the ICEX, the Asian giant prob­a­bly con­sti­tutes the mar­ket with most poten­tial for Spanish olive oil. So is Brazil which, with a pop­u­la­tion of 190 mil­lion inhab­i­tants and a strong eco­nomic growth, has become one of the pri­or­ity mar­kets for Spanish olive oils.

In the Amazonian coun­try, the changes reg­is­tered in con­sumer tastes in recent years, as well as the increased pur­chas­ing power of the pop­u­la­tion, have boosted the pur­chase of this healthy food­stuff which has always been present in the Brazilian diet thanks to the Portuguese cul­tural influence.

Both of these ter­ri­to­ries clearly rep­re­sent impor­tant com­mer­cial oppor­tu­ni­ties for the Spanish oil com­pa­nies which, under threat from grow­ing national com­pe­ti­tion, con­sti­tute vir­gin” mar­kets yet to be explored. Because we must remem­ber that, for instance in China, in regions as pro­lif­er­ate as Gansu, Sichuan, Yunnan and Shaanxi they are already cul­ti­vat­ing their own olive groves.

China

The incip­i­ent demand is mainly the result of an increased stan­dard of liv­ing among its cit­i­zens, who pre­fer to acquire health­ier food­stuffs as opposed to oth­ers that are more health harmful.

Although it is true that veg­etable oils con­sump­tion is still sig­nif­i­cant, more and more con­sumers are intro­duc­ing olive oil into their daily diet.

Their shop­ping is lim­ited to large cities with a medium-high level of pur­chas­ing power and exquis­ite tastes, together with food habits with west­ern influences.

In spite of the fact that its culi­nary uses are bet­ter under­stood, it is still largely unknown. In homes, this prod­uct is not used for direct con­sump­tion (sal­ads), but rather it is per­ceived as a nec­es­sary ingre­di­ent for fry­ing. The inhab­i­tants of Beijing, Canton and Shanghai are the ones who pre­fer to sea­son their dishes with it.

The major­ity of sales are reg­is­tered in super­mar­ket chan­nels. It is also sold in the HORECA chan­nel or gourmet shops.

Brazil

The deci­sive fac­tor in Brazilian con­sump­tion habits is the high price and lack of knowl­edge about its culi­nary uses, as the major­ity only use it to dress sal­ads, whereas very few use it to cook or fry, for example.

They buy mild oils, that tend to be sweeter, and pre­fer a green­ish color as they asso­ciate it with quality.

The olive, vir­gin and extra vir­gin cat­e­gories are usu­ally bought. Use is lim­ited, above all, to the Easter and Christmas peri­ods to make typ­i­cal cod dishes.

The mid­dle class con­sumes most liters, specif­i­cally, ath­letes and those con­cerned about their health as they asso­ciate it with a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Geographically speak­ing, con­sump­tion is mainly con­cen­trated in the south­east of the coun­try, with the main cen­ters being in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

Source: ICEX

This arti­cle first appeared in Olivarama mag­a­zine, and has not been edited by Olive Oil Times.

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