Opaque Bottle and Blending Opportunity for Malaysian Palm Olein in China
by Lim Teck Chaii
China’s bottled cooking oil market sales registered 6.5 million tonnes in 2013. This sector recorded an average yearly sales growth of 16% or 403,214 tonnes from 1999 to 2013. Rising GDP per capita, change in eating habits and yearly population growth averaging 0.6% p.a. from 2000 to 2013 are main drivers for higher purchases.

Along with improved GDP per capita, Chinese eat more oily food. Edible oil consumption per capita per year for urban Chinese rose from 6.4kg in 1990 to 9.14 kg in 2012 while for rural area it rose from 8.7 kg to 14.8 kg.

The top three types of cooking oil sold in 2013 were rapeseed oil with 19.2% market share, followed by soybean oil (18.3%) and sunflower oil (7.4%). The blended oil sector, where palm olein is popularly used as one of the mixtures, enjoyed a market share of 29.6%. Other types of cooking oils have a share of 25.5%. Agriculture and Food Canada claims that blended cooking oil is a popular choice among the Chinese as it contains a great deal of nutritional and functional value, as a result of the presence of several kinds of vegetable oils.

Considering the large quantity of pure rapeseed, soybean and sunflower based cooking oil sold, there are ample opportunities for palm olein to be blended with existing oil to enrich the functionality and nutritive values of these cooking oil. In terms of commercial value, palm olein offers competitive price and longer shelf life because it has relatively less polyunsaturated fatty acid molecules. The other advantage is that food fried with palm olein is less oily. The kitchen will be less smoky and sticky during frying as less polymers are formed. In addition, tocols content is higher than other soft oils. Food fried with palm olein takes the taste of the food as the oil has bland taste. The oil forms less volatile compound during frying, very resistant to foaming and maintains acceptable colour after several cycles of frying.

As China experiences temperate climate conditions, sales of palm olein could be increased by using opaque bottles. This mode of marketing has been well accepted and successful in Romania and South Africa where palm oil based cooking oils are being sold in opaque bottles. Marketing palm olein in opaque bottles can offer advantages such as adding to product image (lifestyle innovative marketing strategy) and product differentiation as the bottles could be marketed in various colours which appeal to the local consumers while overcoming cloudiness problems. This separates it from competitors who normally sell clear bottle cooking oil.

MPOC’s marketing efforts which include a marketing mix of social media and promotional efforts can assist you in the sales should you be interested in marketing blended palm cooking oil or palm olein packed in opaque bottles.

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