Costco has signed a deal with a Cretan producer to import olive oil every month to be sold through its megastores, according to several sources.
The agreement between America’s second-largest retailer and Botzakis, S.A., which first began exporting olive oil to Australia in 2000, was signed on Friday in the Cretan capital of Heraklion, the Greek press reported. Those present included Stavros Arnaoutakis, governor of Crete; Alkiviadis Kalambokis, president of Cretan Export Association; and various representatives from both companies.
The terms of the deal were not disclosed and reports in the Greek press varied, with some saying Costco would import 400 tons every month from Boutsakis, while others said that figure represented Costco’s total monthly needs, among its many suppliers.
Costco distributor Tassos Chronopoulos said the company recognized the quality of Cretan olive oil as being among the highest in the world. Costco has also expressed interest in bringing other Cretan products to its stores, such as honey, herbs and wine.
In 2012, Chronopoulos told the New York Times that Greece’s disorganized agricultural business “all but disqualified itself from partaking in the fancy-food craze of the past few decades.”
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Until he found a reliable partner, Chronopoulos said he constantly opened new shipments to see bottles with labels askew, wrinkled or missing. “They do not understand,” he said, “that a label not applied properly will make the sales suffer.” It seems he found the right partner.
“The quality of Cretan products is their passport to markets abroad,” said Arnaoutakis. Chronopoulos added, “Cretan olive oil has won many awards in competitions in America, Argentina to Canada to Mexico.”
Costco is the largest membership warehouse club chain in the United States and currently the third largest retail company in the world.
Last year, a shipment of 98 cargo containers from another major Costco olive oil supplier, Certified Origins Italia, was detained by the FDA in the ports of New York and Seattle due to an import alert.
An FDA import alert provides that shipments may be subject to detention without a physical examination if the shipper fails to provide an analysis indicating the food is free of illegal residues of the cited pesticides. The FDA said its own physical testing disclosed the pesticide chlorpyrifos in the Certified Origins shipment, but later removed the alert and let the shipment through.
Founded by three brothers raised in a Cretan village, Botzakis, S.A. currently exports olive oil to over a dozen countries throughout Europe, Asia and the Americas.