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The International Olive Oil Council (IOOC) has targeted India’s growing affluent classes in a drive to boost oil sales.

Last May the Council started its million euro three-year campaign to promote the culinary and health benefits of olive oil among India’s middle to upper classes which are growing due to the country’s strong economic expansion.

The Council aims to increase the current sales of 200 tonnes by 60% each year over the next few years and is hoping to do this with a series of events involving the media, the hospitality sector and schools.

The first phase of the promotion will culminate at the end of this year with an international conference in New Delhi.

According to the IOOC the big challenge will be to show that olive oil is not just a luxury item or used in cosmetics and medicine but that it can be successfully used in Indian cuisine. One of the promotional activities planned is the publication of a book dealing mainly with cuisine.

Another major hurdle for the marketing of olive oil in India is that it cost consumers up to three times the price of the oil in Europe because of a high import tariff.

India suffers a serious shortfall of edible oils and scientists from its Indian Institute of Technology are carrying out research in the use of bahera as a potential new source of edible oil. Edible oils are scarce in India whose annual requirements are estimated at about five million tonnes.