Olive oil is now on a level with traditional cooking olis thanks to retailers pushing the price down, a tactic that has meet with mixed feelings from suppliers.

Brits nationwide are turning on to cooking with olive oil - household penetration touched 44% in 2003 as an extra 960,000 households bought the product.

Suppliers have pushed the health message, which includes the fact that light olive oil reaches a higher temperature so the food absorbs less oil.

A key engine in the 6% volume growth of the olive oil sector has been the light variant, now the star with 9% value growth [TNS 52 w/e April 27 03].

However, the glory days for olive oil a couple of years ago when the total market was enjoying growth of some 15% are over. It’s now at a sluggish 2% in value terms due to Asda and Tesco driving the own label price down.

Now in the sun are speciality oils, flourishing at 10% value growth as the multiples provide wider ranges.

For more information see this week’s Focus on Oils in The Grocer.