`The Case of the Disappearing Greek Olive Oils - Olive Oil Times

The Case of the Disappearing Greek Olive Oils

Jul. 16, 2014
Athan Gadanidis

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A two-year effort to study the effec­tive­ness of Greek EVOO mar­ket­ing abroad was recently released. Dimitris Karavasilis, inter­na­tional mar­ket­ing con­sul­tant and founder of DK Consultants pre­sented his self-funded research at the Food for Success con­fer­ence in Athens on July 1, 2014.

The total num­ber of Greek EVOO labelled bot­tles were counted by vis­it­ing the largest food fairs in Greece and abroad, made ana­lyt­i­cal searches in e‑shops, and vis­ited major retail net­works and spe­cialty stores in Greece, and the European Union.

They even recorded and sur­veyed data sources directly linked to the cre­ation stan­dards, such as graphic ser­vices, importers, bot­tles, for­mu­la­tors and mills.

Their analy­sis dur­ing 2011 cat­a­logued 2,643 dif­fer­ent Greek labels of EVOO avail­able worldwide.

When they revis­ited those same sources in 2013, they found that nearly 2 out of 3 Greek brands on the mar­ket in 2011 had dis­ap­peared. It is impor­tant to note the 2012 – 2013 har­vest was a bumper har­vest year for EVOO pro­duc­tion in Greece. It was some of the best EVOO ever pro­duced with extremely low acid­ity lev­els. So it was not due to a lack of avail­abil­ity of Greek EVOO. 

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I asked Mr. Karavasilis the rea­son for the dra­matic drop.

Getting your label on the shelf is not where your job ends but where it begins. You need to main­tain a con­sis­tent strat­egy and have avail­able the nec­es­sary fund­ing and the will to main­tain a mar­ket pres­ence. You also need a com­pelling story that would grab con­sumers’ atten­tion and gen­er­ate loy­alty in order to pro­mote the brand through word of mouth.” 

Dimitris Karavasilis

This is a sig­nif­i­cant research study that could bring about changes in how inde­pen­dent Greek olive oil is mar­keted by high­light­ing the need to build strong brands that can be dif­fer­en­ti­ated by con­sumers. But even more impor­tantly, it may nudge the Greek gov­ern­ment into doing what every other major EVOO pro­duc­ing coun­try has already set into place.

Karavasilis, has been an active pro­po­nent for the cre­ation of a national mar­ket­ing strat­egy at the Greek Ministry for Rural Development and Food over the last few years, but to date has received no inter­est. It is a dis­grace that we pack­age our Greek national trea­sure in Italian Marasco bot­tles which we pay almost three times more to pur­chase than the Italians. 

Why is it that we do not have our own unique bot­tle design for Greek EVOO that would be dis­tinct and imme­di­ately rec­og­niz­able?” he remarked when I asked him to give me an exam­ple of what he means by a national mar­ket­ing strat­egy. This is just one small exam­ple of how you can develop a new prod­uct, cre­ate jobs and pro­vide bet­ter mar­ket­ing sup­port for the Greek olive oil indus­try all in one. But it needs polit­i­cal will to bring all the par­ties to the table,” he added.

Many inde­pen­dent dis­trib­u­tors and grow­ers who have suc­ceeded in devel­op­ing their unique Greek EVOO brands have been either return­ing Greek immi­grants who are able to sup­port their mar­ket­ing efforts with their con­tacts and fund­ing, or local grow­ers who have received finan­cial and mar­ket­ing help from their rel­a­tives abroad. 

George Karasmanis

Most local grow­ers have lit­tle resources and need addi­tional fund­ing and edu­ca­tion to sus­tain a long term mar­ket­ing cam­paign and this is the rea­son for their fail­ure,” Karavasilis said.

Recent tax increases on farm income and land have only exac­er­bated the sit­u­a­tion for local growers. 

There is some good news. 

The Minister of Rural Development and Food, Athanasios Tsaftaris, was replaced last month by George Karasmanis, an out­spo­ken sup­porter of the Greek farm­ing com­mu­nity. Farmers are hop­ing he will con­tinue his sup­port now that he has the power to make a difference.

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