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Last Updated: Friday, 13 January 2006, 02:32 GMT
Olive oil sales boom in UK shops
Olive oil for sale at Borough Market
Olive oil is popular in the Mediterranean
The amount of money spent on olive oil in the UK has exceeded that spent on all other types of cooking oils for the first time, says market analyst Mintel.

Annual sales have hit 104m, up 39% since 2000, giving the oil a 51% share of the market, it revealed.

Mintel said the oil's association with Mediterranean cooking and the growing popularity of more expensive "premium" products were factors behind the trend.

Meanwhile, sales of lard have fallen by around 35% to 14m since 2000.

Solid fats have fallen out of fashion because they are seen as less healthy, the Edible Oils report said.

I am one who has converted to olive oil in the last couple of years
Nicholas, Burgess Hill

In terms of quantity, people in the UK still buy more of the cheaper standard oils, such as vegetable, corn seed and sunflower, it said, but sales of olive oil were now worth more.

Speciality oils such as sprays, sesame and walnut rose by 76% by market value between 2000 and 2004, Mintel revealed.

Health claims

Claire Birks, senior market analyst at Mintel, said shoppers were more willing to spend more on premium products.

"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 and entertaining," she said.

"What is more, the popularity of olive oil has not only been helped by its aspirational value, but also by its association with Mediterranean cooking and the health claims linked with this way of life.

Mintel predicts that sales of liquid oil will rise by around 11% to just under 230m by 2010.

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13 Sep 04 |  Business

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