Cypriot Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment Nicos Kouyialis

As reported last week by Olive Oil Times, the Spanish government is preparing a royal decree forcing the country’s restaurants and bars to replace refillable oil containers with clearly labelled single-use sachets or bottles of oil. The announcement, made by Minister of Agriculture Miguel Arias Cañete, came as a shock after the European Union made the decision to back down from the proposal to ban refillable vessels around Europe in May.

When informed of the article, Cypriot Minister of Agriculture Nicos Kouyialis, who took office last March, agreed with the logic of his Spanish counterpart. Kouyialis noted that extra virgin olive oil in Cyprus carries an historical significance and, due to the fact that Cyprus is not only a tourist destination but also a haven for international businessmen and their families, the quality of the olive oil can not be tampered with.

He said he totally agrees with his Spanish colleague when he he said the motion to ban the cruets “was essential to maintain the sector’s strict policy of promotion and information, as well as the maintenance of the Spain Brand.” Kouyialis added that every country must protect the name and the quality of its traditional produce and, in this manner, the culture surrounding the products will also be protected from those who are looking for quick profit. The minister said that using glass oil bottles for olive oil, sealed by the producer will prevent refilling of vessels from bulk oil bottles of lower quality, sometimes nowhere near the quality of the originals.

Adding more support, the Cypriot Consumers Association announced that if the agriculture minister were to issue such an order, he would be doing everybody a favor — the producers, the consumers and even the restaurant owners. The Consumers Association also added that the costs of such a measure would be minimal.

The Restaurant Owners Association also welcomed the idea and proposed olive oil producers should look into offering private label programs for restaurants and food services — a request seen very positively by the Producers’ Association.

Phanos Leventis, president of the Restaurant Owners Association said “after all it is considered prestigious in Cyprus for restaurants to have their name printed on very good wine bottles, so why not on olive oil miniatures?”

Kouyialis said that employees of the ministry would be trained to ensure that the measure is enforced successfully and bottles would bear the necessary information, such as date and place of production, expiry dates and producer certifications.

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