Unilever Bertolli olive oil launch in trouble

Unilever Bestfoods’ flagship brand Bertolli olive oil could have some variants dropped by supermarkets after it failed to make a significant impact on the UK market since its launch a year ago – despite having &£3m ploughed into its advertising.

Buyers believe some variants, which include Delicato and Robusto, could be dropped as a result of the brand achieving only 2.5 per cent of UK olive oil sales.

The latest AC Nielsen volume figures, for the week ending March 23, show Filippo Berio is the clear market leader with 27.3 per cent of the market. Carapelli has 3.8 per cent, while Bertolli trails in third place.

According to AC Nielsen figures, Unilever spent &£2.8m last year on above-the-line advertising, compared with Berio’s &£436,000.

Berio marketing director Walter Zanre says this latest figure is its highest, despite the brand being “under attack” from Bertolli.

He adds: “Bertolli has thrown everything behind its brands, but it doesn’t seem to have worked.”

One supermarket buyer says: “Bertolli hasn’t bought anything new to the market. You need to bring out products that will expand the market but Bertolli hasn’t. Filippo has always been the brand leader and is growing.”

Bertolli launched in five variants and the buyer says some of them are in danger of being delisted by major retailers. “Unilever launched with all five, but they haven’t performed.”

Another says: “With the might of Unilever, we did expect more impact but it is struggling.”

Unilever refused to comment.

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