Spain contributes more than half of the world’s total olive oil production. It shipped more than 18,700 metric tons of the oil to China in 2013, up 13 percent from the same period a year earlier, according to the Beijing-based China Chamber of Commerce of Foodstuffs and Native Produce. Italian olive oil exports to China increased by €40 million in 2017, according to the National Institute of Italian Statistics. Spain has traditionally been the largest exporter to China, followed by Italy, France, Greece and Turkey but the tides may be changing, according to industry analysts. Let’s take a look at the industry and how your brand can penetrate the market.

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Status quo of the olive oil market in China

All well known brands of olive oil in China are exported. Surveys show that brands from Spain and Italy are highly recognized by Chinese consumers and preferred over local ones. In 2016, China lowered tariffs on Italian olive oil that were long considered prohibitive for entry to the market. The decreasing cost of importing also coincided with cuts to production costs in Italy.
Despite the fact that olive oil accounted for only 1% of China’s total edible oil consumption in 2013, the country’s olive oil imports remained strong and hit 43,400 metric tons in 2013, an increase of 5.8% from the previous year. 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. Considering a long-term perspective, rising per capita income, an increase in the number of middle-class people and the growing demand for more sophisticated food, this trend will continue to increase in China.

 

 

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

As an imported food product, why is olive oil becoming more popular now?

1. Olive oil is a lifestyl Product

‘Di Gou You’ (gutter oil) is illicit cooking oil which has been recycled from waste oil collected from sources such as restaurant fryers, drains, grease traps and slaughterhouse waste. The rise of scandals, exposed by local media, regarding gutter oil has led chinese consumers to seek alternatives to local cooking oil, an important ingredient necessary for almost every dish.

The most important reason for the increasing interest in olive by the Chinese, is its well-documented health benefits. In China, olive oil is widely regarded as a healthy oil that can help prevent cardiovascular disease; decrease cholesterol; delay senility and prevent cancer. Only 0.19% consumers don’t know why olive oil is helpful to health. (Source: SJTU)The concept of healthy food products is a traditional advantage of imported food product in China.

 

 

2. Olive oil as a gift

Imported food products are considered a good gift in China, including olive oil. Quality is especially important in a country where ‘Mianzi‘ takes precedence over everything. ‘Mianzi’ literally translated as ‘Face’, idiomatically means dignity/prestige or ‘to save face’. It’s a subculture in China that is strongly rooted in peoples minds and deeply influences daily life of the Chinese. A quality gift is a must, a show of respect to the receiver. (see more about China face consumption)

Health imported oil like olive oil is usually better packed with a relatively high price which makes it a perfect choice of a gift. During festivals, olive oil sells much better than usual.

 

3. Price of olive oil is acceptable

Price was a big obstacle for imported olive oil before, but it is no longer important.
The increasing concern for food safety changes many Chinese consumers’ insistence on cheap deals. Now they would rather pay more if their health and safety can be guaranteed.

 

 

4. Reliable olive oil brands

A well-known reliable brand is the key to win China olive oil market. Gradually, the competition in this market revolves around branding. Good branding instills consumer confidence. Needless to say, without proper branding, your product risks being one of just many olive oil products.

Among the 12.25 million tons of imported olive oil in the first two months of 2012, 5.16 million tons of it was a product called Olive Pomace Oil. This brand amounted to 42.1% of the total imports of olive oil. However, “Olive Pomace Oil” was none existant in the market place, as it had been repackaged and rebranded before being sold.
This scandal undrmined consumers’ confidence, as real oil was being sold along with fake oil, indistinguishable because they were all under different packaging. Scandals like this is why good branding and promotion are undispensable.

Other articles:

 

How can we help you promote your brand?

Branding in China is important. Chinese consumers buy the name of a brand. They want to buy premium, reputable brands. Chinese people are also the most connected people all over the world. They spend an average of 3 hours to surf on their smartphones. To attract them you need to use digital solutions to gain visibility and make relevant sales.

A CHINESE WEBSITE TO BE ACCESSIBLE TO CHINESE CONSUMERS

To be visible by your target, you need to have a website in Mandarin, hosted in China, for SEO (search engine optimisation) reasons. Baidu, the leading search engine in China, will not rank websites hosted in other countries or websites that are not in Chinese.
Your website must follow Chinese standards and Chinese trends.

 

SOCIAL MEDIA TO CREATE A COMMUNITY

Social media in China is not so difficult; the secret is to generate “traffic”. In China, we know how to start, how to facilitate and develop these conversations among Chinese citizens, on Chinese platforms such as:
• Wechat • Weibo • Tieba • Tianya • Douban

KOL TO PROMOTE YOUR BRAND

To gain visibility and e-reputation, it is crucial to encourage positive word-of-mouth. KOL can help you.
The Key Opinion Leaders (KOL) are social media users who succeeded to make a lot of traffic on their accounts and became famous. Chinese consumers idolize KOLs, trust them more than brands. Some KOLs have some millions of fans. They are really good to influence the massive population. You can influence olive oil lovers and health enthusiasts by using KOLs as intermediaries. Through them, you are able to reach your target group. In other words, intermediaries can be a great asset in selling your imported spirits to Chinese consumers.

 

LEAD GENERATION PROFESSIONALS

We are professionals of the lead generation. To be effective in your lead generation, you need first to develop a good e-reputation. Invest in online advertising and create quality content will help you develop your e-reputation. Finally, measure results to improve your performances.
We are lead generation experienced and we apply it to our agency. We get an average of 350 leads per month (March 2018) by applying the method we offer to companies that use our services.

 

AN INTERNATIONAL AND CHINESE TEAM

We are French/British and Chinese team, here to develop your business in China.
We understand the Chinese consumers: their needs and habits
We also understand the foreign brands’ difficulties when they tried to enter the Chinese market.

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

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