Greek Producers Await Reopening of Restaurants, Tourism

Industry professionals believe that the reopening of the food businesses could put the stagnant market back in motion.
By Costas Vasilopoulos
May. 3, 2021 08:59 UTC

After six months in lock­down with some remain­ing open only for take­out, eater­ies in Greece are prepar­ing to reopen fully by May 3.

While restric­tive mea­sures will reduce seat­ing capac­ity and require social dis­tanc­ing, olive oil indus­try pro­fes­sion­als believe that the reopen­ing of the food busi­nesses could put the stag­nant mar­ket back in motion.

Now, with the eater­ies reopen­ing, the demand for olive oil from restau­rants and tav­erns will increase, but the retail sales of olive oil will drop since many peo­ple will go out for din­ner.- Despina Blavakis mill owner, 

Unfortunately, olive oil did not get the prices it deserved and grow­ers and pro­duc­ers are con­cerned,” said Myron Hiletzakis, the deputy head of the Agricultural Association of Heraklion.

Hiletzakis added that if the restau­rants open up, they will be able to absorb the 30,000 to 40,000 tons of olive oil remain­ing in reserve on Crete. Otherwise, the next har­vest­ing sea­son will open with the trou­bling prob­lem of large unsold quan­ti­ties of olive oil.

See Also:Exports and Prices Are Looking Up in Greece

Other Cretan pro­duc­ers also expect an increase in demand. However, they are unsure to what extent the locally-pro­duced olive oil will be chan­neled to restau­rants and hotels.

There are 100 tons of extra vir­gin olive oil cur­rently stored at my facil­i­ties and I already had some calls from local tav­erns look­ing to buy,” the owner of the Despina Blavakis mill near Heraklion told Olive Oil Times.

The restart of the food sec­tor will give a kick to demand,” he added. However, there are always the impon­der­ables of the mar­ket to con­sider: dur­ing the lock­down, the con­sumers used to buy olive oil from the super­mar­ket and cook at home.”

Now, with the eater­ies reopen­ing, the demand for olive oil from restau­rants and tav­erns will increase, but the retail sales of olive oil will drop since many peo­ple will go out for din­ner,” the mill owner con­tin­ued.

There is also the case of restau­rants and hotels using veg­etable oils instead of olive oil for the prepa­ra­tion of their meals, which lim­its our share of the mar­ket,” Blavakis said. I hope that the mar­ket will grad­u­ally bal­ance to its sta­tus before the pan­demic.”

Despite the mediocre expec­ta­tions of pro­duc­ers, there have been some recent trans­ac­tions in the sec­tor, with small vol­umes of extra vir­gin olive oil exceed­ing €3.00 per kilo­gram at ori­gin in some areas of the coun­try.

In Crete, the first sale of olive oil exceed­ing the €3 psy­cho­log­i­cal limit took place in the Zakros asso­ci­a­tion of pro­duc­ers in the east­ern part of the island, where 30 tons of high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil, with acid­ity lev­els of 0.38 per­cent, were sold for €3.13 per kilo­gram.

In the Monemvasia region of Lakonia, a sim­i­lar price tag of €3.10 was fetched for 200 tons of extra vir­gin olive oil, with the rel­a­tively high price attrib­uted by local olive oil pro­fes­sion­als to the reopen­ing of eater­ies in Italy.

One of the high­est prices of the sea­son so far was reached in Messenia, where a Greek trader offered €3.51 per kilo­gram for 40 tons of extra vir­gin olive oil with a Protected Designation of Origin cer­ti­fi­ca­tion in an auc­tion held by the Agricultural Association of Glyfada.

My esti­ma­tion is that there is an upward trend in olive oil prices in the mar­ket now,” Athanasios Katsas, a mem­ber of the asso­ci­a­tion, said. We do not know if this trend will con­tinue for long. If we take into account what has hap­pened the past years, it would be good for them [pro­duc­ers] to start sell­ing now.”

See Also:Bringing Olive Oil Tourism to Greece’s Most Popular Island

Tourism is also expected to bounce back in the coun­try. By mid-May, Greece will start accept­ing tourists from the E.U. mem­ber states and other coun­tries, includ­ing the United States, Serbia and Israel, to put its tourism indus­try back on track.

In Halkidiki, a pop­u­lar tourist des­ti­na­tion in north­ern Greece, some olive oil pro­fes­sion­als are unsure how the tourist sea­son will affect the demand for olive oil.


Prices of olive oil in our area are usu­ally among the high­est in the coun­try due to the supe­rior qual­ity,” the own­ers of the Vagio Agrofarms bot­tling and export­ing com­pany told Olive Oil Times.

However, the pro­duc­ers are skep­ti­cal and do not cur­rently sell,” they added. We also have a lot of cus­tomers such as tourist shop own­ers who every year bot­tle their olive oil to sell in their shops under their brand, but most of them have not yet shown up this sea­son.”

Despite the open­ing of tourism, there is still a lot of uncer­tainty in the mar­ket and small or larger pro­duc­ers are still on hold,” the own­ers con­cluded.

However, for Zacharoula Vassilakis of Ladopetra, a grower and olive oil pro­ducer based in the area, there are bet­ter prospects for the sec­tor.

The food and tourist facil­i­ties reopen­ing in Halkidiki will nat­u­rally require more olive oil,” Vassilakis told Olive Oil Times.

We sell locally and we also export to Europe, and to tell the truth, the pan­demic had lit­tle impact on our busi­ness,” she added. Over the years, our cus­tomers have learned to trust the qual­ity and our organic extra vir­gin and PDO Agourelio [early-har­vested olive oil] have always been a hit among them.”

The times are chal­leng­ing, but we expect to retain our pace of sales for our qual­ity prod­ucts and hope­fully increase it dur­ing the next months,” Vassilakis con­cluded.


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