The significance of branding and standardizing in the olive oil industry has been stressed repeatedly. Branding can establish the quality of a product and build its reputation. More importantly, the added value of branding can yield profits on a par with the quality of the product.

But today, as the majority of the Eurozone countries are in the gloomy and steep paths of the lurking financial crisis, firms in the olive oil oil industry should be cautious: the European GDP as a whole shrank by 0.4 percent during the second quarter of 2012 compared to 2011, and the two biggest economies of the zone are in peril; Germany had a marginal growth of 0.3 percent while growth in France has been stagnant. Even Belgium, the hub of the euro zone, is starting to taste the bitter flavor of recession with its growth falling back by 0.6 percent in the second quarter of 2012 compared to the first quarter.

Consumers’ purchasing power is constantly reducing in Europe and soon they will be looking for cheaper products as people in Greece have already done. So, olive oil producers and exporters should think twice before sending their bottles of branded extra virgin to the common European market.

The obvious solution is to turn to other markets and promote their products there. Russia and China are able to absorb vast quantities of olive oil and already by this time some enterprising exporters have set up shop there.

After participating in a commercial exhibition in Moscow and having astounded the visitors with its top quality products, the Cretan “Crissa Gea” organization sends its oil to Russian supermarkets and restaurants. Next stop is the Szechuan region in China with its 80 million consumers.

Then, there are other markets not so promising but open to new products; “Agrovim”, based in southern Greece, exports its olive oil to Dubai having practically monopolized the market there.

An alternative is to differentiate and aim at specific target groups, a more demanding and marketing-intensive process. Companies like “Moria Elea” and “Speiron” sell their ultra premium extra virgin oil at extravagant prices: 500ml for €29 and €50 respectively and prices go up if you order it in a gift box. But everything is being taken care of down to the slightest detail, from the bottle to the label and the cork, and of course the content. These products are not easily located in the market or deli stores and their buyers are those who pursue perfection and can afford it.

Ways to promote and sell olive oil in turbulent times do exist. They need professionalism, persistence and open-minded people.

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