The International Olive Council’s Marketing Strategy: a closer look at the global and Australian initiatives

Established in 1959 with the backing of the United Nations, the International Olive Council (IOC) stands as a global forum for the sustainable and cultural enrichment of the olive oil industry.

The IOC’s legacy

Established in 1959 with the backing of the United Nations, the International Olive Council (IOC) stands as a global forum for the sustainable and cultural enrichment of the olive oil industry.

Boasting 19 official members from the 45 countries responsible for 94 per cent of the world’s olive oil production, the IOC has been pivotal in standardisation, research, technological advancements, and the promotion of olive products.

In 2022, the IOC kicked off a four-year campaign in Australia to promote the knowledge of olive oil and increase the consumption levels and to disseminate information in relation to the IOC trade standards.

Nurturing global awareness on Olive oil and the IOC standards through marketing

In an exclusive interview with the IOC Executive Secretariat, we delved into the specifics of the IOC’s international marketing incentives which target both member and non-member countries. IOC promotional activities aim to increase the level of consumption of olive oil and to raise consumer awareness of the benefits of this product both in terms of health and sustainability.

Furthermore, the marketing strategies of the IOC aim at organising promotional campaigns in non-member countries and provides grants to finance national programs to promote local consumption of olive oil and table olives in member countries.

Globally, the IOC’s promotional action lines includes the realisation of prospective market studies, the coordination of promotion campaigns of olive products and standards and their evaluation or organising education and awareness activities on olive oil to promote the IOC Trade standard. Finally, the IOC promotional works also includes the management of grants activities.

Regarding the IOC’s approach in Australia in 2022, the objective was to formulate a brand strategy and host two launch events to introduce the campaign. The overall PR campaign aims to inform about the various categories of olive oil outlined in the IOC trade standard, enhance consumption, and educate producers on best practices.

The 2023 campaign is committed to increasing awareness among Australian authorities and stakeholders regarding the IOC’s standards and the nutritional, sensory, sustainable, and health benefits of virgin olive oils. As part of this effort, the IOC organised an Introductory workshop in the sensory evaluation of Olive oil upon its return to Australia on 17-18 October 2023.

Led by Dr Wenceslao Moreda, from the “Instituto de la Grasa (CSIC)”, this two-day event unfolded at the Four Seasons in Sydney. It provided a platform for IOC officials to interact with Australian growers and diverse stakeholders, including researchers and authorities.

Moreda addressed the sensory evaluation of olive oil, exploring both the physical and psychological aspects of the organoleptic process while underscoring the correct conditions of production in alignment with IOC standards.

Insights from an attendee of the IOC Workshop in Australia

Soumi Paul Mukhopadhyay, a sensory and consumer science researcher with the NSW Department of Primary Industries, shared her experience attending the IOC workshop in Sydney. According to Mukhopadhyay, “Australian extra virgin olive oil is well-renowned for its superior quality and flavour profile.” Expressing her role in championing Australian olive growers, she noted, “it’s my role to ensure that consumers appreciate what the Australian olive oil industry has to offer.”

Mukhopadhyay, familiar with the IOC’s work, commended the organisation’s significant contributions, stating, “The standard of the IOC document is of very high quality and is reviewed every few years to ensure the procedure is up to date.” She emphasised the IOC’s commitment to sharing knowledge freely, making it accessible to researchers worldwide.

Marketing for change: a call for experience-driven consumption

Imene Trabelsi, PhD, head of the promotion department at the IOC, highlighted the challenges of influencing consumer behaviour stating that “From a marketing point of view, it is NOT easy to influence consumer behaviour to change their food habits and consume more healthy and sustainable products in an increasingly industrialised world”. So, it is important to create and deliver perceptible values to consumers.

Promoting the culture of extra virgin olive oil through supporting research programs, valorising scientific research with universities, and going beyond the product are of great importance nowadays to change the perception of the consumer and increase consumption of virgin olive oils.

In conclusion, the IOC’s multifaceted approach to promote its trade standard, marketing encompasses global initiatives and tailored campaigns for individual countries like Australia. The organisation’s dedication to quality, health and sustainability, is evident in its strategic endeavours and workshops that bring together experts and enthusiasts alike, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation for the olive oil industry.

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