The olive oil market in India has been expanding rapidly on the back of increased consumption. India’s total import of olive oil in 2010 stood at 4,187 tons compared to 2,617 tons in 2009. This represents a jump of nearly 60 percent in the volume of imports in a single year.
The bulk of these imports came from Spain and Italy, which together constitute about 90 percent of India’s olive oil imports. Apart from these major olive oil producers, Turkey supplied about 5 percent of the total imports in 2010. Portugal is another European nation that is keenly looking at boosting its trade volumes with India by supplying olive oil, among other products.
India has become a significant market for olive oil in recent years. There is an increased awareness in India about the numerous health benefits of olive oil. It is no longer perceived as a rich man’s fancy food, but a truly healthy food. However, this newfound awareness is largely restricted to the upper and middle economic sections of the society in the urban areas. A very large portion of the Indian market is still waiting to be tapped.
The olive oil industry in India received a major boost in 2007 with the formation of the Indian Olive Association (IOA), which became the apex body for producers, importers, and consumers of olive oil in the country. Within a year of its formation, the IOA managed to convince the Indian government to reduce the customs duties on all grades of olive oil. The result was a major reduction of import duty from the previous 40 to 45 percent to a flat duty of 7.5 percent on all grades of olive oil.
The import duty reduction represents a clear endorsement of the Indian government about the health benefits of olive oil. This is an opportunity for the global olive oil industry to look at India as a major potential market with a very large consumption of edible oils. The rising consciousness of the Indian consumers about healthy foods makes the task easier to promote olive oil as an excellent healthy alternative to the traditional cooking oils used by the average Indian household.