`Problems, Prospects for Greek Olive Oil - Olive Oil Times

Problems, Prospects for Greek Olive Oil

Dec. 22, 2015
Lisa Radinovsky

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This should be a good year for Greek olive oil, with 250,000 to 260,000 met­ric tonnes likely to be pro­duced, accord­ing to Grigoris Antoniadis, the pres­i­dent of the Greek Association of Industries and Processors of Olive Oil (Sevitel) and cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor at ELAIS-Unilever Hellas.

Antoniadis told Giorgos Manettas of Imerisia that the 200 per­cent surge in Greek olive oil exports last year (mainly in bulk) resulted from the com­bi­na­tion of Greece’s very good har­vest of 300,000 met­ric tons and Spain’s reduced pro­duc­tion. This allowed Greece to make up for part of the pro­duc­tion short­fall in the global mar­ket. International olive oil buy­ers turned pri­mar­ily to Greece, and sec­on­dar­ily to the rest of the olive oil pro­duc­ing coun­tries in the Mediterranean, such as Tunisia and Turkey,” he said.

The mar­ket remains largely unreg­u­lated, endan­ger­ing pub­lic health.- Grigoris Antoniadis, Sevitel

Antoniadis added that last year’s increased demand also led to higher pro­ducer prices (from €3.50 to €4.00 per kilo­gram) in Greece. However, with the Spanish crop expected to return to nor­mal this year, things will return to a bal­ance,” as in pre­vi­ous years, with prices expected between €3 and €3.50.

Antoniadis said he is con­cerned about how Greek olive oil is dis­trib­uted. Since 2002, a European Union reg­u­la­tion has required mem­ber states to pack­age olive oil in five liter or smaller con­tain­ers, pro­hibit­ing bulk sales both for safety rea­sons and for the pro­tec­tion of con­sumers. However, Antoniadis lamented, thir­teen years have passed since then, and noth­ing has hap­pened. Despite our com­plaints, the mar­ket remains largely unreg­u­lated, endan­ger­ing pub­lic health,” as some bulk olive oil in Europe is adul­ter­ated with seed oils or col­ored with unreg­u­lated dyes.

As Imerisia reported, Antoniadis sug­gested there may be an upside to the tax increases pro­posed for Greek farm­ers: he believes the new tax arrange­ments fore­seen for the agri­cul­tural world may bring order to the mar­ket,” because they will make it more expen­sive and dif­fi­cult to han­dle the ille­gal bulk prod­uct. Mills and traders will be forced to declare the oil pro­duced and mar­keted in the tax data, which will reduce the ille­gal move­ment. It will be dif­fi­cult to dis­trib­ute oil anony­mously with­out doc­u­ments.”


Antoniadis hopes the result will be a reduc­tion in black mar­ket bulk trad­ing, an increase in state rev­enue, and more bot­tled and branded Greek olive oil. He argues that the future of Greek olive oil is in high added value prod­ucts which will ben­e­fit both the pro­ducer and the bot­tler.” He advo­cates the pro­mo­tion of organic olive groves and place names” and increased exports of stan­dard­ized oils.

He is also opti­mistic that bet­ter reg­u­la­tion of the mar­ket could attract more invest­ment from abroad, which has been lack­ing in Greece in recent years, although Spain and Italy have been invest­ing in new pro­duc­tion plants and brand names.

Almost ten years ago, with pro­grams co-financed by the Greek Ministry of Rural Development and the European Union, SEVITEL embarked on a cam­paign to pro­mote Greek olive oil in more than a dozen dif­fer­ent coun­tries. The results were impres­sive: in recent years, exports of pack­aged oil increased by 60 to 70 per­cent, from 15,000 tons to 25,000 tons a year.”

This helps explain why SEVITEL was judged the top export assis­tance com­pany at the fourth annual Greek Exports Awards 2015,” which was orga­nized by the Union of Diplomatic Employees of Economic & Commercial Affairs and Ethos Media S.A. under the aus­pices of the Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

As Imerisia reports, Antoniadis believes exports are the only way out for Greek olive oil pack­agers.” In addi­tion to tra­di­tional mar­kets in super­mar­ket chains in North America, Australia, and north­ern Europe, prospects exist in the Middle East and Latin America, and we place great hope in the mar­kets of China, India, and Russia. The lat­ter are the three major chal­lenges for Greek oil. We are opti­mistic that we will man­age to earn a mar­ket share and gain ground there as well, despite fierce com­pe­ti­tion.”


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