Chinese Cooking Is Suddenly Looking More Mediterranean

Bright Food, a Shangai-based food company, said on Tuesday that it has a bought a majority stake in Italian olive oil maker SALOV, the company behind the famous Filippo Berio brand, Patti Waldmeir at the Financial Times reports.

The purchase reflects the shifting tastes of a rising Chinese middle class, who are moving toward a more European-style diet. According to the FT, Bright said that with the latest deal it “hopes to promote Mediterranean style cooking to Chinese consumers.”

This isn’t the first time Bright has invested in a foreign food brand. The state-controlled company previously bought one of France’s leading wine merchants, Diva Bordeaux, and has a majority share in UK’s cereal Weetabix.

The figure of the latest deal has not been disclosed, but in May the company spent almost a billion dollars to buy 56% of Tnuva, Israel’s leading food producer. At the time, the FT said that “the move would help to expand in the fast-growing domestic dairy foods market, as foods such as cheese become more popular with Chinese consumers.”

The Chinese have a growing appetite for European foods: The Wall Street Journal calculated that China imported $US184 million worth of olive oil in 2013, compared to $US1 million just a decade ago. That figure is set to growth alongside the ever-expanding purchasing power of the Chinese middle class.

Bright Food has made public that it intends to grow its portfolio of international brands, and with the acquisition of SALOV, it seems the company is on the right path.

Filippo Berio is sold in more than 60 countries and is the leading olive oil brand in both the US and the UK, according to the company’s website claims. Speaking with Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Bright said that the brand would benefit from the increased demand from the Chinese market, while 100% of the production will stay in Italy.

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