Olive oil consumption in the UK has been rising steadily over the last 19 years, according to the Office of National Statistics.
The UK share of the world consumption of olive oil has risen from 1.9% to 2.9% between 1990 and 2009. The UK now consumes 28m litres of olive oil per annum, all of which is imported, and sales topped £150m a year for the first time in 2008. This is double the amount sold eight years ago and significantly more than the £90m spent on vegetable oil. Half of UK homes now use olive oil compared with just 35% in 2001.
In recognition of this, one quarter of the total budget for the biggest promotional campaign for olive oil undertaken to date in the European Union, will be spent in the UK.
Speaking at the launch of the campaign, Pedro Rubio, vice-president of the Interprofessional Olive Oil from Spain, said: "In collaboration with the European Commission and MARM (Spanish Ministry of the Environment and Rural and Marine Affairs), we're committed to increasing consumption of olive oil in Europe.
"The nutritional, health and environmental benefits of olive oil production and consumption are highlighted in this new Europe-wide campaign which sets out to enhance the consumer's perception of olive oil as a healthy all-purpose cooking product, offering a wide range of dietary benefits and exceptional culinary attributes."
Most popular oil in UK is extra virgin
Although overall, the UK has seen an increase in the number of households using olive oil, its use tends to be restricted as a fine cooking ingredient or as a condiment for salads rather than as a general purpose oil for the kitchen.
Moreover, three key consumption trends have been identified in relation to three qualities of oil:
- Extra virgin olive oil is used primarily for dressing salads, as a dip for bread and for preparing sauces.
- Olive oil (which contains exclusively refined olive oil and virgin olive oil) and mixed oil (including those containing olive oil and other vegetable oil) are used for cooking/grilling and preparing mild sauces.
- Vegetable oil (sunflower and other seeds) is used for frying. In the UK, the most popular oil is extra virgin, but olive oil (a mixture of refined olive oil and virgin olive oil) is the type of olive oil that's seeing most growth in sales.
Olive oil in glass bottles is the most popular compared to plastic; containers of more than 1,000ml are produced in plastic. The size of oil containers that are most popular are those between 750 and 1,000ml, and currently consumers are tending to buy the bigger bottles/containers. Research also shows that the British public in general don't know that Spain is an olive oil producer.
In the UK, white label now represents 55% of the total market in volume. The consumption of olive oil has increased by 60,000 tonnes between 1990 and 2008. Sales of €136m were recorded for 2009.
The flavour of life
To reach consumers directly, 42 press advertisements are featuring in national magazines and newspapers in the first year of the campaign.
The promotional campaign in the UK will feature a highly visible bus carrying the campaign's image, which will distribute information and gifts at different sales points.
Source: Abascal Comunicación
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