The Cretan Producer Who Leaves Nothing to Chance

Terra Creta combines millennia-old traditions with modern technology to produce sustainable and award-winning olive oil on the Aegean Sea.

Photo: Terra Creta
Mar. 25, 2022
By Costas Vasilopoulos
Photo: Terra Creta

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Countless olive trees stretch into the dis­tance on Crete, the largest Greek island and heart of the coun­try’s olive oil indus­try, account­ing for one-third of the coun­try’s total olive oil pro­duc­tion.

In Kolymvari, on the west­ern side of the island just a few kilo­me­ters away from Chania, Terra Creta makes the most of the unique ter­roir and local pas­sions to cre­ate some of the finest Greek olive oils.

With a plethora of PDO- and PGI-cer­ti­fied olive oil pro­duc­ing ter­ri­to­ries on the island, we can pro­duce extra vir­gin olive oils of unique aro­mas and fla­vors to sat­isfy cus­tomers with dif­fer­ent palates.- Emmanouil Karpadakis, inno­va­tion and export man­ager, Terra Creta

Crete boasts a thou­sands-years-old tra­di­tion in olive grow­ing, and olive oil is indis­sol­ubly linked to the island’s his­tory and culi­nary tra­di­tion,” Emmanouil Karpadakis, the olive oil inno­va­tion and area exports man­ager of Terra Creta, told Olive Oil Times.

Around 75 per­cent of the Cretan olive oil clas­si­fies as extra vir­gin, whereas Cretans exhibit an insa­tiable appetite for olive oil with an aver­age con­sump­tion of 29 kilo­grams per year, the high­est in the world,” he added.

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Terra Creta is focused on qual­ity in pro­duc­tion – a mind­set that per­sists from 2001 when the com­pany began its oper­a­tions in Chania. After mov­ing to its pri­vately-owned facil­i­ties in nearby Kolymvari, the com­pany pledged to deliver prod­ucts of impec­ca­ble qual­ity through a thor­oughly designed pro­duc­tion method­ol­ogy.

At our state-of-the-art olive oil mill in Kolymvari, we pro­duce and bot­tle our olive oils based on a holis­tic approach that pro­motes trans­parency and sus­tain­abil­ity from the field to the super­mar­ket shelves,” Karpadakis said.

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We work together with two sep­a­rate groups of local olive grow­ers under a col­lab­o­ra­tive model we devel­oped our­selves,” he added. It was a chal­lenge, but our efforts have paid off help­ing our pro­duc­ers work bet­ter and our com­pany to pro­duce olive oils of pre­mium qual­ity.”

We have also inter­vened at key points in the pro­duc­tion process to ensure sus­tain­able man­age­ment and devel­op­ment,” Karpadakis con­tin­ued. We apply min­i­mal to zero har­row­ing of the soil. We avoid burn­ing crop residues such as olive tree branches and twigs, and we only use plant-pro­tec­tion prod­ucts friendly to pol­li­na­tors and no chem­i­cal pes­ti­cides what­so­ever.”

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Within 20 years, the export-ori­ented Terra Creta has evolved to a ver­ti­cally inte­grated com­pany encom­pass­ing all the nec­es­sary oper­a­tions for the pro­duc­tion, bot­tling and expor­ta­tion of Cretan extra vir­gin olive oil world­wide.

Karpadakis, who is also an olive oil sen­sory eval­u­a­tion expert, praised the wide selec­tion the fer­tile land of Crete has to offer to local olive oil pro­duc­ers.

With a plethora of PDO- and PGI-cer­ti­fied olive oil pro­duc­ing ter­ri­to­ries on the island, we can pro­duce extra vir­gin olive oils of unique aro­mas and fla­vors to sat­isfy cus­tomers with dif­fer­ent palates,” he said. The sen­sory pro­file of our olive oils is always eas­ily rec­og­niz­able and appre­cia­ble by our cus­tomers.”

At Terra Creta, we believe that our focus on respond­ing to mar­ket demands and con­sis­tently offer­ing inno­v­a­tive prod­ucts of tan­gi­ble qual­ity sets us apart from the com­pe­ti­tion,” he added.

We keep track of the changes in our cus­tomers’ pref­er­ences, con­sid­er­ing the grow­ing global trends for olive oils of spe­cial sen­sory pro­files and improved health ben­e­fits. It is a sec­tor we’ve heav­ily invested in over the last decade.”

Terra Creta cur­rently exports to more than 40 coun­tries world­wide, includ­ing Germany, France, Belgium, China, South Korea, Australia and sev­eral Latin American coun­tries.

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Karpadakis com­pared the com­pany to a well-oiled machine, where metic­u­lous pro­duc­tion seam­lessly com­bines with novel appli­ca­tions to cover all aspects of mod­ern olive oil pro­duc­tion.

We have devel­oped a trace­abil­ity sys­tem that enables con­sumers to track the ori­gin of the olive oil they buy,” Karpadakis said. It offers com­plete trans­parency and is highly val­ued by both dis­tri­b­u­tion net­works and con­sumers.”

Terra Creta has also pio­neered the intro­duc­tion of an annual sus­tain­abil­ity report in the Greek olive oil sec­tor, Karpadakis said, hav­ing already low­ered car­bon emis­sions in their pro­duc­tion chain by 15 to 30-per­cent com­pared to the rest of the indus­try.

The sus­tain­abil­ity report we first embed­ded in our oper­a­tions is a mile­stone in our company’s his­tory and paves the way toward com­pletely sus­tain­able pro­duc­tion of olive oil in the next few years,” he said. Our effort in achiev­ing sus­tain­able devel­op­ment, known as Our World 2025’ among us, demon­strates our vision and sense of respon­si­bil­ity to cre­ate a viable future.”

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Attention to detail has also placed Terra Creta among the Greek pro­duc­ers excelling in the NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition. The com­pany sig­nif­i­cantly improved its tally from two Silver Awards in 2020 to three Gold Awards in the 2021 edi­tion of the com­pe­ti­tion.

Winning in world-class com­pe­ti­tions… is the cul­mi­na­tion and recog­ni­tion of our efforts to pro­duce olive oil of supe­rior qual­ity,” Karpadakis said. Our awards also greatly con­tribute to suc­cess­fully pro­mot­ing our prod­ucts in mar­kets world­wide.”

Recently acquired by Melissa-Kikizas food com­pany, Terra Creta is deter­mined to con­tinue to deliver high-qual­ity olive oils under the same brand name and is always close to Cretan pro­duc­ers.

Crete’s olive oil indus­try is an impor­tant pil­lar of the local econ­omy,” Karpadakis said. Under the new cor­po­ra­tional scheme, we aim to expand our coop­er­a­tion with local farm­ers and extend our mar­ket share in Greece and abroad.”

The Cretan diet is the foun­da­tion of the Mediterranean regime, and it is based on a vari­ety of sta­ple ingre­di­ents with olive oil in the van­guard,” he con­cluded. Our mis­sion at Terra Creta is to prop­erly com­mu­ni­cate the nutri­tional value of extra vir­gin olive oil to the ends of the earth so that con­sumers can choose wisely.”


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