A uniquely shaped, cylindrical, evergreen tinted bottle of Cretan olive oil is the reason one Greek family isn’t so concerned about the country’s economic crisis. The husband and wife team who run the Kolympari-Mihelakis Family olive oil company say their latest product, Olive One, surpasses anything they’ve ever produced before, and key markets are really taking notice.
“We have a special quality. We’ve taken careful steps to create our olive oil to make it the best it can be and we know that people understand quality abroad,” says Anna Katzaki who grew up around her family’s olive trees in northwestern Crete. Katzaki runs the company with her husband, Dimitris Asimakopoulos.
Anna’s family has been producing olive oil since the 1980’s but she says they’ve always strived to invest in and to improve their production to entice foreign markets. They succeeded to break into the German and American markets years ago. Currently, they produce 1,500 tons a year. They are proud to say their various olive oil products have never been over 0.5 percent acidity.
Now, they are distributing something new, Olive One. It’s a limited edition “superior” olive oil measuring between 0.19 and 0.25 percent acidity. Currently they are exporting it to Germany where it sells for around 40 Euros for a half-liter bottle. They plan to export it to the United States this year.
They say its shape represents the product’s uniqueness, choosing the design even though they knew the labels couldn’t be attached by machine. Each label must be applied by hand. There are 15,000 bottles of Olive One and they are numbered.
Katzaki says she won’t sell it in Greece. “We take careful steps and just focus on foreign markets. Here in Greece, quality just isn’t something average people try to understand since olive oil is everywhere.”
Our acidity is low and the taste is amazing,” says Asimakopoulos who focuses on marketing and sales efforts. “The numbers are there and the proof is there but the system doesn’t work that way here in Greece, where everyone accepts bulk.”
“I’m angry about the situation in Greece right now but we are looking at opportunity and it is working. It’s about strategic marketing, the right research on wholesalers. We know our limit with our products. We won’t sacrifice quality,” says Katzaki.
Kolympari-Mihelakis Family olive oil is named after the area where the family olive tree groves have been growing for a thousand years in the scenic town of Kolymbari, Crete.
“Greeks, especially Cretans, know about our area. We’re famous for our olive oil. Our trees actually grow in Kolympari and that’s a real impressive advantage,” says Katzaki.
“People who appreciate quality will know when they try our olive oil,” says Asimakopoulos. “We looked everywhere but the fact is there is nothing like Olive One in the market today.”