More and more olive oil is becoming an essential item in an increasing number of American households. In fact, against a backdrop of a minor decline in the retail pourable oil category, olive oil alone showed an increase in grocery store retail dollar and volume sales for the 12-month period ending July 2000. Olive oil increased 9.9 percent in retail dollar sales and 5.0 percent in retail volume sales. This information is based on Nielsen data released by the North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA). "We are not surprised to see olive oil enjoying this growth, because it's the only oil that gives the consumer the combination of flavor and health attributes," said Richard Sullivan, NAOOA president. "U.S. household penetration for olive oil has nearly doubled over the past ten years, and more and more, olive oil is becoming part of every day cooking in American kitchens." As with retail growth, only olive oil saw an increase in household penetration from 1998 to 1999, when it reached a level of 28.7 percent. It is expected to continue its climb. All other major oils, including vegetable, corn and canola, experienced declines. According to Nielsen data for the year ending July 2000, Extra Virgin Olive oil grew the most of the various olive oil types imported to the U.S. It increased from 41 to 46 percent in dollar sales and from 32 percent to 36 percent in volume sales. Established in 1989, the NAOOA is a trade association of importers, marketers, and packers of olive oil in the U.S. and Canada as well as their respective suppliers abroad. The association's objectives are to supply North American consumers with top quality olive oil and to foster trade and consumer understanding of the benefits of olive oil.