January 13, 2006

Britons Turn to Olive Oil as Cooking Styles Change

LONDON -- Olive oil is becoming ever more popular in British kitchens, with more money spent on it than on all other types of cooking oils for the first time, a survey showed on Friday.

Sales of olive oil have risen by almost 40 percent since 2000 to hit 104 million pounds, according to research by market analyst Mintel.

Olive oil has overtaken other standard cooking oils, with a market share of 51 percent compared to 43 percent in 2000.

"The fact that Brits now spend more on olive oil than on standard oils shows a willingness to pay a premium price for sophisticated alternatives to everyday products," said Claire Birks, Mintel senior market analyst.

"The use of olive oil in rustic and exotic dishes has also done a lot to elevate its status as something 'special', especially amongst those who enjoy recreational cooking."

The popularity of standard oils has been mixed, with vegetable oil in particular falling out of favor.

Overall, the market for edible oils has increased by 15 percent to 220 million pounds in 2005, with liquid oils taking up 94 percent of the sales.

Sales of lard, which dominates the solid fats market, have dipped by around 35 percent to 14 million pounds since 2000.