With olive oil being one of the most prosperous for European agriculture, its production is mainly concentrated in Mediterranean countries such as Spain, Italy, Greece, Tunisia, Turkey, etc. Even though the leading countries in terms of olive oil consumption are Greece, Italy, and Spain, the Chinese market is growing at a fast pace, following the health awareness of the Chinese society and an increase in wages. As the most populous country in the world, China has plenty of opportunities for ambitious olive oil brands looking to expand their activities in Asia. Therefore, because the Chinese market is different from what you might be accustomed to, it is important to know exactly the landscape of the olive oil market in China beforehand.

Olive Oil Market: Overview

Following globalization, consumers’ taste, in general, has changed over the years, with a variety of products and culinary dishes that are now available everywhere in the world. For centuries, olive oil was considered an exquisite product. Used for cooking, frying food, or in a salad, we can easily find olive oil in every supermarket around the world. Its popularity led to the trend of putting olive oil in everything, from cosmetics and pharmaceutical products to soaps.

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European Commission)

According to the European Commission, the production of oil was mainly coming from the EU. Then, if we look at the leading non-EU countries producing the most olive oil, Turkey is leading, followed by Morocco (registering a 17% increase compared to 2019) and the Syrian Arab Republic.

European Commission)

EU: The Leading Olive Oil Market

Now if we look at the leading producers of olive oil worldwide, Europe is leading the market, with Spain which is far ahead, as it accounts for more than half the global olive oil production, followed by Italy, Portugal, and Greece.

Eurostat)

In terms of per capita consumption, the leading markets are Greece (over 24 liters per person per year), Italy, Spain (14 liters per person per year).

Overview of the Olive Oil Market in China

China’s consumers are becoming more cautious than ever before. Knowing this, it is important that foreign brands entering the Chinese market know how to deal with them or else they risk losing a huge chunk of its population due to mistrust and fear.

Foreign food companies looking for success in China need only look at scandals from domestic brands like Shanghai Husi Food Co Ltd., which was found selling expired meat products, as well as contaminating soy sauce. These incidents have shaped people into being ultra-sensitive about what goes into their mouths; an unfortunate consequence when you’re trying to sell your product on someone’s stomach!

Olive oil brands from Spain and Italy are highly recognized by Chinese consumers, who prefer them over China-made products. In 2016 the government of China lowered tariffs on imported Italian olive oils to make it easier for more companies to enter the market. As a result, many olive oil producers were able to attract even more Chinese customers.

Famous Italian brand Olivoilà in a Chinese supermarket

Despite the fact that olive oil consumption is still recent in China, imports are in constant growth. The growing trade figure had also pushed Chinese companies to seek takeover targets overseas that could help meet the demand for olive oil back home. If we think in the long-term, rising per capita income, an increase in the number of middle-class people, and increasing demand for more sophisticated food, this trend will last in the future as Chinese consumers are highly dependant on foreign olive oil.

Why are Chinese Consumers (and Distributors) buying olive oil?

As a matter of fact, soybean oil and rapeseed oil were used by the majority of the Chinese population. But because of the shift in consumption of the Chinese middle-class, people tend to buy foreign olive oil. So, as an imported food product, we can wonder why is olive oil becoming more popular now?

Olive oil: A Trendy Lifestyle Product

A few years ago, ‘Di Gou You 地沟油 ‘ (gutter oil), an illicit cooking oil that has been recycled from waste oil collected from sources such as restaurant fryers, drains, grease traps, and slaughterhouse waste has raised health awareness among the Chinese population. The rise of scandals, exposed by local media, regarding gutter oil has led them to seek alternatives to domestic cooking oil, which is an important ingredient for almost every dish.

Gutter oil scandal (gutter oil on the left, and normal oil on the right)

One of the main reasons for olive oil’s popularity among Chinese consumers is its health and virtue benefits. As a matter of fact, olive oil is rich in vitamin E and does not contain preservatives as they are made from natural ingredients. Moreover, it is also used to lower the risk of coronary disease, preventing cancer, reducing inflammations, as well as preventing cardiovascular diseases and cholesterol.

Therefore, foreign brands benefit from both high-quality reputation, as well as selling healthy products.

Olive Oil as a Gift in China?

High-quality imported food products are really common presents in China, such as wine and spirits, cosmetics, but also olive oil. Even if it might seem weird, some high-quality and renowned brands of olive oil are popular gifts in China. According to Daxue Consulting, more than 60% of the total olive oil sales in China are intended for gift purposes.

Olivoilà olive oil ad (© China Press Time)

In a country where ‘Mianzi‘ (面子) takes precedence over everything and it is always well-seen to give a rare or expensive present. Literally translated as ‘Face’, ‘Mianzi’ idiomatically means dignity/prestige or ‘to save the face’. It is a subculture in China strongly rooted in people’s minds and that is deeply influencing Chinese consumer’s daily life. A quality gift is a must, a show of respect to the other person.

Healthy imported oil like olive oil is usually better packed at a relatively high price which makes it a perfect choice as a gift. During festivals, olive oil sales are increasing compared to other kinds of oil.

Olive Oil is More Affordable than Before in China

Even if foreign olive oil is more expensive than usual oil, for example, the fact that the price was a big obstacle is no longer true in the Chinese market. Conscious of the benefits it has, they are willing to spend a few yuans more in order to purchase quality products instead of buying cheaper domestic oil.

Reliable Olive Oil Brands

High-quality olive oil in China

Having a well-known and reliable brand is key to success in China’s olive oil market. Gradually, the competition in this market was made according to branding strategies. Good branding instills consumers’ confidence. Needless to say that without proper branding, your product will be like any other olive oil product, and Chinese consumers will not even pay attention to it.

Moreover, because of the various scandals of fake olive oil being sold along with real oil, it has become essential to adopt a different packaging from competitors and fake sellers and promote it effectively.

How to Sell your Olive Oil in China?

  • In supermarkets
Olive oil in Chinese supermarkets

The majority of the Chinese population is buying olive oil directly in supermarkets. They will have access to a wide variety of olive oil, and that’s why it can be difficult for a new brand to directly attract Chinese consumers in supermarkets.

  • On e-commerce platforms
Olive oil on Tmall’s website

Then, as China is one of the most digitalized countries in the world, you should also consider selling your olive oil on e-commerce platforms such as Tmall, JD.com, Taobao, Pinduoduo, etc.

You can also read our full Guide for E-Commerce in China

How to Promote your Olive Oil in China?

As said earlier, China’s digitalization has conducted to the rising use of smartphones connected to the internet. Thus, advertising strategies have changed as well, and brands now have to be active on social media.

Read our Strategic Guide to Export Food Brands in China

Branding: The Key to Success in China

You want to attract Chinese consumers? You need to show them you’re reputable and they’ll buy your product. A popular way is using digital solutions, like a Chinese website and social media profile that helps both the consumer find what he/she’s looking for AND generates interest in your company as well!

A Chinese Website Ranking on Baidu: The Door to Enter the Chinese Market

When creating a website for Chinese consumers, it is important to use their language and host the site in China. This will allow you to be found by more potential customers through search engines such as Baidu (the most popular).

Olivoila ad on Baidu

Baidu, the leading search engine in China with over 700 million monthly active users (MAUs). Your website must follow Chinese UX standards and be optimized to “please” Baidu’s algorithm for it to rank. Obviously, Baidu prefers mandarin content. Your content should be original and frequent.

To increase your website authority as well as brand reputation, we suggest you combine your content marketing strategy with a PR strategy. Indeed, having trusted third parties talking about your products add a lot to your value as a brand.

Social Media: The Best Way to Increase your Community

Social media in China are even more important in China compared to western countries. In fact, if you want to succeed, you will have to generate “traffic”. In China, we know how to start with, how to help you, and develop topics among Chinese citizens on platforms such as:


Wechat

Weibo

• Tieba

• Tianya

Douban

Chinese Celebrities and KOLs to Promote your Olive Oil Brand

Olivoilà ad with Actor and singer Nicholas Tse

In order to stand out and gain an edge in the market, it is important for brands to encourage their consumers with positive word-of-mouth. With celebrities being so prevalent among Chinese consumers nowadays, they have a lot of potentials when trying to influence them as well. However, collaborating with these high-profile figures isn’t something that can be done just by contacting KOLs as many would think at first glance.


The Key Opinion Leaders (KOL) are social media users who are extremely famous on social media and have the power to make or break brands thanks to their wide community. Chinese consumers “idolize” KOLs, trust them more than brands in most cases. You could use KOLs as intermediaries to reach out and influence the masses. They might have millions of followers, but they can also be really good at influencing people who are into olive oil or living a healthy lifestyle! Through them, you will be able to increase considerably your sales as well as increase your brand awareness and e-reputation. In other words, intermediaries can be a great asset in selling your imported olive oil to Chinese consumers.

Contact GMA to Get Started in the Chinese Olive Oil Market

Lead Generation Professionals

Lead generation is an important part of any business, but sometimes it can be difficult to know where you should focus your efforts. You need a good e-reputation first and then invest in online advertising as well as quality content. The key is being able to measure the results so that way you are improving continuously! For those looking for lead generation experts who have experience with this process successfully, they will want our agency because we get an average 350 leads per month by applying these methods for the agency’s marketing.

An International and Chinese Team

We are a French/Russian/Bristish/Korean and Chinese team here to help you grow your business in China. We understand the needs of both foreign brands who want to enter into the country as well as those native consumers who make up so much of its population.

Send us an email or visit our offices, so we can discuss how to promote effectively your business in China.

You can also contact us to receive our F&B Case studies, we already helped more than 80 Brands in the F&B industry in China.

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41 Comments

  1. Thanks for this. Very informative.

    Great opportunity for some olive oil brands to use the positive opinion about the category as a springboard to build their reputations here in China.

    Shi Jin

  2. Thank you philip to share with us this Kind of article. I am also convince that it is the time for Olive Oil company to come to China ! 😉

  3. From all the olive oils, the best is the extra virgin olive oil which happens to be a real afordable pleasure. Once you try the real one (alike our Kaltur Premium), the one which provides you with the right amount of bitternes and spiceness, no fauls in the taste and handful of fruityness flavors you can recognize a product to be enjoyed like the wine. Go to your favorite food retailer and ask them for this product, after you have tryed different brands you will have already the basic knoledge to recognice the good stuff.

  4. Dear Philip
    Hello, I enjoyed and learned too of your website…we are An iranian Extra virgin olive oil producer .our olive oil is produce from my own garden, ready to export to Great china.
    i hope you become successful in your way…

  5. Hi Philip,well done ,it is really impressive especially for the one like me who has olive farm in Turkey.
    We can keep in touch and ı also wnat to share ideas with you ,do you wanna join?
    pls keep in touch ,ugurogutgen@live.com

  6. Interesting article! I stumbled upon it not because I’m looking to sell olive oil, but because I’m looking to buy some. I’m an American living in the far western region of Xinjiang, and the local grocery stores all carry at least one brand of (extra virgin) olive oil, which the packaging always claims is imported from Spain. Naturally, I’m skeptical, considering not even my Chinese friends can vouch for the authenticity of any product sold in China. One brand I looked at tonight, Lu Hua (described in this article), sells for about 100 Yuan per regular-sized bottle, which amounts to about $16 USD. Considering the cost to bring Spanish olive oil all the way to a small city in the middle of nowhere, I’m really having a tough time believing this is really extra virgin olive oil. At first, I thought maybe it’s a mysterious blend of random China-produced cooking oils being passed off as a foreign product, but now I wonder if it might be the olive pomace oil described in this article. In that case, they’d be telling a half-truth, and certainly, the locals here probably wouldn’t know the difference.

    1. Hello;

      I’m Rifaat, from Morocco, I’m olive oil extra virgin producer. This Year I have a good recoat. So I’m looking to export some small quantity.
      If you are interesting by my business, please contact me we can discuss:

      email: machrafi.rifaat@yahoo.fr

      Mobile phone: 00212660151631

      For you information, I ready ship some Qty to my customer in France, Belgium and Canada (just some bottle) the feed back was very good.

      When you will test my olive oil, you can understand easy the difference between olive oil extra virgin and normal one.

      Thank you.

    2. thinking right mate… Sadly, 99.999% of the Chinese population buying olive oil dont even know the difference between mixed blend of European olive oils and the single estate ones… If you try the single estate olive oil from a village in Greece you will forget your name and will be talking olives.

  7. Hi , i find very intersting the article , i would ask to you if you could help me to contact some important business operator in olive oil market because i would like to find business opportunities as a tester and a selecter of olive oil according to my long experience in Italy as professional taster.
    Thanks a lot and best regards
    Dott. Aldo Mazzini

  8. The olive oil import export business is a major industry in the U.S. and abroad. Most of the world’s olive oil comes from the Mediterranean and neighboring regions. If you’re considering going into the olive oil importing or exporting business, then first get very familiar with the product itself, the regions where it is produced, and its markets. Also understand that not all olive oil is created equal. If you’re new to the trade and commerce business, then learn how to import / export first before you go any further. – See more at: http://www.businessideasoasis.com/olive-oil-import-export.html#sthash.psesUM4c.dpuf

  9. Philip

    Very nice write up, well done. We are still fairly new in the industry and producer in SA. Would like to also find out more about Chinese markets and your article is helpfull. Take note that 5 South African EVOO producers received awards at the New York International Olive Oil Competition this year. From over 700 entries the South African oils did well. The industry in our country has grown and I invite you to look at our industry website saolive.co.za for more information.
    Pallas Athena EVOO , which is our brand received a Silver award and it was our first pressing so we were delighted. Maybe in future we will be able to have the Chinese people taste the South African EVOO’s which competes with the best in the world.

  10. One Question:

    At the beggining of the report in section Status quo of China olive oil market, you states that “there has been 1,225 tons of olive oil imported to China in January and February this year 2012″…..

    But in section 4. (namedReliable olive oil brands), you states that “Among the 12.25 million tons of imported olive oil in the first two month in 2012, there’s 5.16 million tons of it is Olive Pomace Oil, amounting to 42.1% of the total import”…….

    WHich is the correct figure, 1225 tons or 12,25 million tons??

    Many thanks

  11. Very interesting!
    Olive oil companies in Greece play a key role to the county’s exports and economic well fare. Greek olive oil is being shipped to almost every European country including England, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden. Greek olive oil is also exported to China, Saudi Arabia and several other Asian countries.
    You can read more here: https://www.exportgate.gr/overview/sectors/agriculture/olive-oil

  12. Hello. I would like to contact because I am interested in showing some proposals of my parters that want to export its olive oil from Spain to China with very good quality/cost ratio.

    Thank you very much in advance. Best regards

  13. This info is very gd. Pls update the latest info u can. I m supplying olive oil into China n also sourcing for more distributors in China .

  14. Hi there,
    I was hoping to ask you a few questions or talk to you about importing olive oil from California to China. We have incredible quality/variety/low operating costs and were curious of the market there.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Best,
    CCR

  15. Thank you for this great article.

    We sell cosmetic South African Oils and are now moving into the business of Olive Oil.

    South Africa has some of the best quality oils in the world. We are slowly starting to export and hope to reach as many countries as possible.

    Kind regards,
    Nyla Naturals Team

  16. Dear Sir/Madam,

    How are you doing,

    We are interested in purchasing your products and we sincerely hope to
    establish a long-term business relationship with your esteemed company.
    Please kindly send me your latest catalog. Also, inform me about the delivery time or FOB, and payment terms and warranty.

    Your early reply is highly appreciated as we are urgently in need of this order.

    Thank You!

    Best Regards,

    Eric Morgan
    President/CEO
    Carisco Tradings Ltd.
    Address 2148 Alaska Ave,
    Dawson Creek BC V1G4H3 Canada
    Phone +1250-782-4448
    Email: cariscotradingsltd@outlook.com

  17. I’m not sure where you’re getting your info, but great topic. I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more about China Market. Thanks for excellent information I was looking for this info for my mission I will follow your website on Linkedin marketingtochina.

  18. hello
    i wouking for to sell heigher of quality oil olive to China and i am seeking to offer best of it
    We have extra virgin olive oil: virgin olive oil with a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 0.8 grams per 100 grams and the other characteristics of which correspond to those laid down for that category by the Trade Standard IOC

    virgin olive oil: virgin olive oil with a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 2 grams per 100 grams
    we want to attract Chinese Buyers mainly , Distributors or maybe sell on line on Tmall

  19. Hello,
    We would like to Import Olive Oil Brand (not raw product) want a brand that you can find in western supermarket with long history and good branding. we want to sell online and in our imported food chain stores.
    Contact us for further information

  20. I want to resell Olive Oil in China, already famous Brand from Spain and Italy (or France)
    I am a small distributor in Center of China, Chengdu.

  21. Dear Sir

    Interested by the Chinese Market, we are the LOUTRAKI OIL CO. in Greece, producers, manufacturers and export distributors of fine 100% Greek quality olive oil products. I am proud to tell you a fact that no other Greek olive oil company has earned collectively all the certifications and international medals that our ELEA EVOO product has earned. Apart from this, the LOUTRAKI OIL COMPANY is currently one of the top 3 Greek olive oil exporters and our name is synonymous to trust and quality.

    We are specializing in providing strictly real, untainted and authentic Greek EVOO products.

    Our ELEA Brand is World famous and has won many many awards, however all of our other brands sells very well in each corner of the world. All of our EVOO’s are of premium quality and have acidity between 0.3% to 0.5%.

    Dilip Goswami

    Producers, manufactures and export distributors of fine olive oil products.

    Member of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry

    Member of the Corinthian Bio cultivators Union

    Member of the DIO Bio cultivators Organization

  22. Hello,
    I represent loundge, a lifestyle store chain that want to resell imported niche food brands; we are searching for good high quality Olive Oil.
    contact me with brand materials and pricing

  23. Hello,
    We are a New China imported store chain, and plan to open 1000stores in China this year, we are searching to sell impported Olive Oil from Spain and Italia to China, already famous brands.
    No wholesale and raw material oil please. Just Brands;

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