Oil balsamic vinegar herbs

Source: Unsplash

Shoppers have been trading up from the likes of sunflower oil to posher olive oils

As the scratch cooking boom subsides, so do cooking oil sales. The category is down by £5.6m – a significant reversal on the £45.2m gain reported last year. Seven of the top 10 brands are in value decline now Brits are once again eating out and on the move.

But there are a couple of notable exceptions to the downward trend in the top half of the table – and they’re both olive oil specialists.

Category leader Filippo Berio and challenger La Espanola have added £1.2m and £2.3m respectively.

Those gains are a result in part of shoppers trading up from the likes of sunflower oil to posher olive oils, says Walter Zanre, CEO of Filippo Berio UK. “In the last 18 months, people that don’t have household budget problems have possibly had more disposable income than ever before and so I think they’ve treated themselves a bit better.”

Which explains the March launch of Filippo Berio Rustico Unfiltered Extra Virgin Olive Oil (rsp: £8.99/one litre).

The brand isn’t the only one premiumising the oils market this year. Edible Oils brand Iliada, for instance, added a range of flavoured EVOO with an rsp of £5 for 250ml (see Top Launch, below).

So, cooking oil is getting posher. It’s highly likely it will also be more expensive soon – and not just across fancy olive oil.


Rapeseed oil prices in Rotterdam, a key trading hub for oils, hit a 50-year high in September due to poor European and Canadian supplies. Meanwhile, Spanish extra virgin prices are up 27% year on year, according to the Granaria di Milano pricing index. That’s been driven mainly by a lower than forecast crop and strong demand.

“The biggest impact in the market really has been the raw material price increases for the markets,” says Gary Lewis, KTC Edibles head of business development for oils & fats.

Freight is also a major influence. Limited haulage availability and rising fuel prices have led to big jumps in global transport costs, which will inevitably be passed on to shoppers, says Kim Matthews, commercial director at Edible Oils.

Indeed, Filippo Berio has been obliged to pay an additional £1.3m in transport costs over the past year, says Zanre. However, the brand has managed to avoid rsp increases  by “juggling the promotional side and reducing the depth of deal” he adds.

Still, it’s only a matter of time before retail prices start to creep up and volume sales take a hit, Matthews warns.

“High inflation is starting to filter through,” he says. “Margins are squeezed and further retail price inflation is expected.

“When this comes, we would expect to see a move to smaller pack sizes as basket price and purses are squeezed.”

Top Launch 2021

Iliada Extra Virgin Olive Oil | Edible Oils


Source: Iliada

Cooking oil is not a category known for eye-catching innovation, but still Iliada managed to turn heads in March with the launch of two flavoured extra virgin olive oils. The Truffle variant is billed as the ideal pairing for pasta, risotto and salad, while Basil promises “vivid aromas of fresh green fruit”. Both are made with handpicked koroneiki olives – widely regarded as among the best in the world – from Kalamata, Greece. And at £5 for (an attractively canned) 250ml, they’re seriously premium.

The Grocer’s Top Products Survey 2021: who’s up, who’s down – and our overview of the key trends