There has been a sudden rise in demand for olive oil in India with the rise in health consciousness leading to a sharp rise in consumption, an industry source said Saturday. In 2003, the total consumption of olive oil in the country was only 500 tonne, while China has an annual olive oil consumption of 30,000 tonne, though the demand in India is rising steadily. As per the Indian Olive Association (IOA) data, the country's annual consumption of olive oil has jumped to 6,000 tonne during 2011 from 4,000 tonne reported in the previous year. This is a rise of 50 percent. An IOA official said in the current year, the consumption is expected to touch close to 10,000 tonne. "Demand for olive oil as a cooking medium is rising steadily in the urban centers and we expect the huge growth to continue in the coming years," said IOA President V. N. Dalmia. The olive oil, imported mainly from Italy and Spain, had been traditionally used for massage purpose in the country, while the oil known for its higher content of mono-unsaturated fatty acids which reduces possibility of diseases has been gradually accepted as a key cooking medium. Italy and Spain produce 90 percent of the global olive oil production of 3.2 million tonne. "Urban retail growth and rising health consciousness among the consumers has led to this growth," Dalmia, who is also the chairman of Dalmia Continental (DCPL), which owns the largest selling olive oil brand --Leonardo in India, said. Although total consumption of olive oil is small in comparison to other forms of edible oil consumption in the country, the consumption of premium oil is due to steady rise in the purchasing power. India's annual vegetable oil consumption is expected to be around 17.1 million tonne while production is expected around 7.3 million tonne. In the current year, India is likely to import 7.6 million tonne of palm oil, 1.1 million tonne of soybean oil, 1 million tonne of sunflower oil and 10,000 tonne of other edible oils mainly from Indonesia and Malaysia. Meanwhile, DCPL also announced selling of 27 percent stake to Italian olive oil producer Nicola Pantaleo for an undisclosed amount. Dalmia, which owns the Leonardo brand, claims a growing olive oil market in India, with a share of 30 percent. The joint venture with Italian firm ensures steady supply of olive oil for DCPL. Besides, it would give the Italian firm a foothold in the rapidly growing Indian market.