A new project is underway on Crete to unite the island’s growers and producers in order to protect the quality of Cretan olive oil and promote its exportation to foreign markets.
The initiative, which is being called the Unified Body of Cretan Olive Oil, came as a result of challenges brought onto the sector by low olive oil prices and further fueled by cases of adulterated oils being marketed as Cretan extra virgin olive oil in the Greek market.
The new body must be financed so that the producers bringing their olive oil to us receive a surplus value for their product, a fixed price based on the market.
“The decline of the [olive oil] prices in recent years has put growers of Crete in a very difficult position,” Charilaos Vlazakis, the head of the Union of Agricultural Associations of Chania, said.
“[The group] will try bypassing all obstacles or petty interests that obviously exist to reach consumers so they use the Cretan olive oil as it is produced from the land of Crete,” he added. “Today, it is of the utmost importance due to illegal profiteering and the counterfeiting of olive oil and I think people are aware of the cases of extended olive oil adulteration in northern Greece.”See Also: Olive Oil Business News
The nascent group will represent a total of 17 olive oil unions and associations, in an attempt to market the Cretan oil under one common label and strengthen its identity.
“Colossal firms abroad unite year after year. We are alone here, isolated, unable to form the big schemes required,” Stavros Gavalas, from the Union of Agricultural Associations of Heraklion, said.
“It is fine to use the name ‘Chania,’ the name ‘Heraklion, the name ‘Lasithi’ or the name ‘Rethymnon,’ but the name ‘Crete’ is something bigger and more important, that will open the way to big markets and food chains that we can’t currently enter due to the small quantities each one of us promotes individually,” he added.
No new packaging facilities are required for the venture, as the existing establishments in Crete can cover the demand for bottling the olive oil of the unified Cretan producers. However, financing is crucial for the whole project to come into existence.
“There are no investment costs involved since we already have the facilities of the associations of Heraklion, Rethymnon and Kolymbari,” Yiannis Glentzakis, the head of the agricultural associations of Rethymnon, said.
“The big question is financing,” he added. “The new body must be financed so that the producers bringing their olive oil to us receive a surplus value for their product, a fixed price based on the market, and after we bottle the oil and make profit out of it we should return the surplus to the producer. This is the way to go, the producer must reap the surplus.”
The trade group is expected to be active by late October or early November and provide the producers of Crete with data and market prices of olive oil as well as profits.