The executive director of the International Olive Council told the Olive Oil Times this week that his agency plans to spend 1.2 million euros ($1.7 million) to promote olive oil use in the United States and Canada, building on what the latest IOC market report calls its “proven success” in the world’s biggest market.

Olive oil consumption in the US rose by 15 percent, according to the report, for the five year period through 2009. From 2010 through 2013, consumption is expected to climb another 10 percent. The IOC report includes a graph indicating a sharp increase in olive oil use that coincided with the beginning of the promotional activities by what was then called the International Olive Oil Council. Other factors that might have led to the trend were not examined in the summary. Meanwhile, consumption of all vegetable oils during the same period was only up about 4 percent (PDF).


The IOC will publish in the coming weeks a call for tenders, or request for proposals, for the promotional campaign which the agency wants to launch during the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade’s Fancy Food Show to be held in Washington this Summer. Promotional initiatives are expected to focus on the retail level where the agency’s research has indicated it is easier to influence buying decisions.

Other findings in the IOC market summary for March included data supporting the well-known American preference for Italian olive oil, which accounted for more than half of US imports in the most recent two years — more than double the imports from Spain, the world’s largest olive oil producer. Then again, during the same period investigations have shown olive oil shipments from various origins were routinely labeled as Italian, so whether or not Americans actually consumed more olive oil made in Italy than from others regions during the period would be hard to determine.

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