Edward Bergen
Ed Bergen is a Global Food & Drink Analyst experienced in identifying FMCG trends and applying analysis to client projects to highlight opportunities in their categories.

Consumer perceptions of oil products often link to functional or health attributes, with many UK consumers  likely to associate olive oil with attributes such as ‘pure’, ‘healthy’ and ‘flavoursome’, according to Mintel’s UK research on edible oils. Due to the positive perception of oils, varied types and good versatility, the opportunity is open for brands to explore new flavours in the category to drive further usage occasions, so long as they remain aligned to consumer demand for health and naturalness.

Oil innovation in Europe and the US in recent years has mainly focused on alternative oils, such as coconut, rapeseed or avocado. However, launches of flavoured or infused oils, especially garlic and chili oils, has slowed. There is an opportunity to reinvigorate this stagnant part of the category with naturally flavoured varieties of trending alternative oils.

Ahuacatlán Infused Avocado Oil and Garlic, USA

Benvolio Organic Sesame Seeds Oil with Ginger Extract, Italy

Could flavoured edible oils replace sauces?

In contrast to oils, cooking sauces have negative health perceptions. Indeed, a barrier to purchase for cooking sauces is the product’s poor perception around health and naturalness, with one in five US consumers saying they are using less of, or not using any, cooking, pasta sauces and marinades because they are too processed, according to Mintel’s research on sauces and marinades in the US. With health perceptions of oils being more positive in comparison to those in the sauce category, oil brands should look to explore more adventurous sauce-flavoured oils. In recent years, success in the sauce category has been found from ethnic dishes, which flavoured oils could easily replicate.

For flavoured oils to be used more as replacements for cooking sauces, manufacturers have to focus on the health and clean label qualities of their oil and they must also educate consumers as to how best to use flavoured oils in cooking. For example, highlighting the suitability of a particular oil for specific cuisines or for use in a dressing are ways of getting consumers comfortable with using oils for different reasons.

Valderrama Oriental Collection Olive Oil with Red Thai Curry, Spain

À la Table de Mathilde Two Basil and Dried Tomato Olive Oil, Spain

Grill Time! Barbecue Marinade Oil, Portugal