Borges, one of the renowned olive oil producers and exporters from Spain, has recently entered the Indian market. Initially rolled out in the major metropolitan regions, the company plans to extend its distribution network to 36 Indian cities and towns in 2011. The Borges Group has a presence in over 100 countries and has long-term plans for India, including a foray into olive cultivation. In an Interview with Gita Narrayani of Olive Oil Times, Dr. Rajneesh Bhasin, Managing Director of Borges, India talks about the products and the ways to popularize this healthy cooking medium in the huge Indian market.
GN: What were the reasons behind the selection of India as a market for the products of Borges, especially olive oil?
Bhasin: Indians have turned extremely health conscious in their food habits in recent times and are open to the idea of exploring new tastes and flavors. Changing lifestyles too have led to growing awareness about health, nutrition and the need to start eating and living healthy. The Indian consumer has evolved a lot and she is aware of the global trends and aspires to adopt brands that provide the right value. ‘Active Health’ is on the top of her agenda. She is extremely conscious of the lifestyle-related diseases that are affecting our lives. She is increasingly concerned about the health of family members and continuously looks for changes/ improvements that can make them healthy.
Borges stands for providing the consumers with the benefits of diet based on values of Mediterranean life across the globe and we aim to do that in India as well. Hence, Borges has set up a 100% subsidiary in India which is a first for a Mediterranean food specialist – this itself signifies the priority that we accord to India as a market.
GN: Borges Extra Light Olive Oil has been “specially designed for the Indian consumer” with its light flavor & aroma; has it proved popular in your test market?
Bhasin: Borges has launched an Extra Light olive oil variant that is suitable for the Indian way of cooking. This variant of olive oil was specially introduced for consumers who want the goodness of olive oil, but do not want the strong aroma and flavor of the oil to interfere with the spices and condiments used here. I am glad that the consumers have accepted the concept and the response to the oil has been encouraging.
GN: There is a perception that olive oil is not suitable for the different types of Indian cuisine, due to its flavor. What is Borges India doing to dispel this wrong notion?
Bhasin: It is very critical to make olive oil and its variants relevant to the daily lives of the Indian consumer. We are addressing this through effective communication. In the initial stage, we have identified relevant usage occasions for each one of the Borges olive oil variants which form an integral part of the brand communication. We understand the need to dispel myths related to the use of this wonder product and help understand the immense benefits and are prepared to take up this challenge.
GN: Is Borges Extra Light Olive Oil similar in any way to olive pomace oil that some companies are marketing here as a suitable medium for Indian cooking?
Bhasin: Borges Extra Light Olive Oil is a blend of refined olive oil with extra virgin olive oil. This variant has a very mild taste and is best suited for Indian cooking, as it ensures that the dish retains its original taste. This olive oil variant is specifically launched for the Indian market to offer consumers the goodness of olive oil without the pungent taste.
Borges Extra Light olive oil is not similar to pomace olive oil as there is a difference in the way the two variants are extracted. Pomace is that part of the olive (skins, pulp, seeds, and stems) that remains after all the oil and water in it has been removed by pressuring or centrifuging processes. Pomace oil is obtained by applying heat, solvents, or hot water to the pomace. On the other hand, Borges Extra Light olive oil is obtained by refining the olive oil (which is obtained from pressing the olive fruit but not suitable for direct consumption) and then blending it with extra virgin olive oil. Due to this difference globally and in India as well, olive oil is priced at 70-80% premium over pomace olive oil.