Asia

Deoleo Campaign Features a Taste Test by Indian Grandmothers

While the women were quick to comment on the lack of salt and use of spices, none noticed olive oil had replaced fats traditionally used in Indian cuisines.

Deoleo's Figaro brand of olive oil. Photo courtesy of Deoleo India.
Sep. 10, 2019
By Julie Al-Zoubi
Deoleo's Figaro brand of olive oil. Photo courtesy of Deoleo India.

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Grandmothers from across India have become the unlikely stars of a tele­vi­sion com­mer­cial pro­mot­ing Spanish olive oil, in a quest to per­suade Indian food lovers that olive oil could replace tra­di­tion­ally used fats with­out com­pro­mis­ing the taste of local del­i­ca­cies.

In the heart­warm­ing clip, four Indian grannies were invited to a food tast­ing ses­sion. They were asked to give feed­back on their favorite dishes cooked by unknown chefs. While the grand­moth­ers were quick to com­ment on the lack of salt and use of spices; not one of the ladies noticed that olive oil had replaced the fats tra­di­tion­ally used in Indian cuisines.

Food is an emo­tion and wisdom that brings people closer. To every Indian – grandmom’s spe­cial meal is the epit­ome of nos­tal­gia and uncon­di­tional love.- Satarupa Majumdar, Deoleo India

The mar­ket­ing ini­tia­tive aimed to dispel the wide­spread mis­con­cep­tion in India that olive oil only pairs well with Mediterranean dishes, such as pasta and salads, and is not com­pat­i­ble with tra­di­tional Indian dishes.




Satarupa Majumdar, head of mar­ket­ing at Deoleo India told Olive Oil Times how they came up with the idea of get­ting the women on board to pro­mote their Figaro brand of olive oil.

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See more: Cooking with Olive Oil

“Food is an emo­tion and wisdom that brings people closer,” Majumdar said. “To every Indian – grandmom’s spe­cial meal is the epit­ome of nos­tal­gia and uncon­di­tional love. That’s been the thought.”

Majumdar said that the ladies were excited when they real­ized they were about to become olive oil super­stars and added, “they share the same sen­ti­ment of love for cook­ing for their dear ones.”

“Indian con­sumers are well versed on the health ben­e­fits of olive oil,” she con­tin­ued, although the most com­monly used oils in Indian house­holds con­tinue to be refined oils like peanut and sun­flower.

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“Olive oil is used for light cook­ing in house­holds,” Majumdar said. “However, some people also use it as a mas­sage oil for skin.”

Since 2016, Deoleo has faced local com­pe­ti­tion fol­low­ing the launch of India’s own brand, Raj Olive Oil, which is pressed from olives cul­ti­vated in the desert state of Rajasthan.

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Deoleo does not see the Indian olive oil as a threat to their Figaro brand, Majumdar said, and the data bears this point of view out. According to the Indian Ministry of Commerce, 76 per­cent of Indian olive oil imports came from Spain in 2018.

“The gen­e­sis of olive oil in India has been through imports and Figaro is the oldest brand with 100 years of legacy,” she said.

In 2018, import duties on olive oil soared yet again in India from 12.5 per­cent to 30 per­cent; a move which the Indian Olive Association described as “exor­bi­tant and extra­or­di­nary.”

Deoleo India, which pro­vides around 19 per­cent of the Indian olive oil market, announced plans to stream­line its cen­tral dis­tri­b­u­tion by bring­ing all the company’s man­u­fac­tur­ing, dis­tri­b­u­tion and mar­ket­ing oper­a­tions to India.

Majumdar spoke of the evo­lu­tion of edible oils in India saying, “We have been early adopters. We have pro­gressed from clar­i­fied butter to veg­etable short­en­ing (Dalda) to sun­flower oil and then pre­mium refined oil and so and so forth.”

She attrib­uted rapid changes fol­low­ing the intro­duc­tion of butter in the late 1990s to, “pre­mium func­tional oils making a dent in the market and lifestyle shows prop­a­gat­ing olive oil.”

“Mostly due to increas­ing aware­ness, brands came into the pic­ture, and spend­ing capac­ity increased. Now you find two to three types of cook­ing fats in an Indian house­hold.”

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