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Greek Olive Oil Exports Increase by 225% Between 2002-2020

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Olive oil. Credit: Tiia Monto / CC BY-SA 4.0

Greek olive oil exports have increased by a remarkable 225% in 2002-2020, SEVITEL (the Association of Olive Oil Producers) found in a new report published this Tuesday. The actual volume of olive oil has increased from 14,871 tons in 2002 to 52,735 in 2020.

The report, using information from the DG Trade of the European Commission, showed that Greece exported 31,655 tons of olive oil to European countries in 2020 alone, up 319% from 7,561 tons in 2002.

Germany is by far the biggest importer of Greek olive oil, representing almost half the amount imported by Europe with 14,907 tons in 2020. After Germany comes UK (2,698), Austria (2,578), France (2,032), Belgium (1,463), Sweden (1,385) and Cyprus (1,209).

Why the Greek oil is the best in the world

Greek olive oil, or “Liquid Gold,” as Homer called it, has been part of Greece’s history since antiquity. It is an irreplaceable nutritional component of the Greek diet.

Today, throughout the world, there are approximately 800 million olive trees — of which approximately 95% are cultivated in the Mediterranean basin, which has the best soil and climatic conditions for olive cultivation.

The olive is widely grown all over in Greece. Its cultivation, which is greater than any other type of fructiferous tree, occupies approximately 15 percent of cultivated agricultural land and 75 percent of arboraceous cultivations in the country.

Today, Greek olive oil is regarded as the best in the world, because extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) comprises at least 80 percent of olive oil production, while in Crete it reaches close to 90 percent.

Rich and aromatic, it is produced only from green olives. Its color, aroma and flavor vary and depend on the following factors:

The olive variety, location and type of soil where it is cultivated, as well as the environmental and climatic conditions in which the olive tree is cultivated and grown are vital.

The maturity of the olive itself at the time of harvesting is also important, as well as the season and the way in which the olive is harvested. The time delay between the harvesting of the olives up to the production of the olive oil is also important.

The manner in which olive oil is produced, the storage techniques, and finally the manner in which the oil is packaged and transported to the oil presses also must be taken into account.

Marketing strategy for Greek olive oil still leaves much to be desired

However, a recent study published on Jun 1 of this year showed that Greek olive oil exports to Canada — where there is an enormous Greek diaspora — are dropping while Tunisian and Italian olive oil dominate the market.

The report released by the Greek Consulate in Toronto shows Greece has now dropped to being the fourth largest supplier of olive oil for Canada, a key market.

The Consulate report showed that Greek olive oil exports to Canada have continued on a downward trajectory, despite the popularity of olive oil as a whole increasing in the country.

It seems that the reason for this downturn in the Canadian market for Greek olive oil is due to competitive strategies which have been employed by other top olive oil producers.

Italian olive oil, which is in actuality often partly — or even fully — Greek-produced oil, has taken over the gourmet oil market. Greek olive oil, unlike its Italian counterpart, is often exported wholesale, without labeling, enabling the oil to be mixed and resold to other countries.

For years, the Italian strategy has been to standardize their products, mixing them with Greek olive oil, and creating an air of luxury around their oil. Often restaurateurs will promote Italian olive oil, selling it with their own labels, further reinforcing its supposedly high-end connotations.

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