Why Greek olive oil? What is it that makes Greek olive oil so unique?

There are over 800 million olive trees in the world, which makes the olive one of the most extensively cultivated fruit crops in the world. The ten largest producing countries are all located near the Mediterranean. Olive oil production in the world in 2014 was 2.82 million tons, of tuzen canadian pharmacy which just over 10%, at 0.3 million tones originated in Greece (Reference: Food and Agricultural Organization, www.faostat3.fao.org), with only Spain and Italy producing more. However, production rates do not describe the benefits of Greek Olive Oil versus other sources, as a more in depth look reveals the true answer should look at the consistent quality and the traits specific to Greece.

First, Greece is very much enamored with the olive for ages. Olive oil is a very important part of Greek nutrition and the Greek consumer is very particular to the oil he uses in his diet. He has known quality olive oil for years, has identified himself with it, and will not accept anything less than the quality is used to. Olive oil is a sacred food in Greece and no alterations or changes of any kind are allowed. Greece has laws that regulate the quality of olive oil and these laws are strictly enforced for the protection of the consumer. But more important than that, the Greek farmer takes a special pride in the production of olive oil. Extra care is taken at all stages of olive oil production and packaging and standards are kept very high indeed.

The olive oil packaging industry, one of the oldest and healthiest Greek industries, numbers several large enterprises with international ties as well as medium or family sized enterprises. The olive oil packaging is done using stringent quality control methods with many companies functioning under ISO or HACCP quality control rules. Companies check more than 25 parameters in every olive oil batch. This process is expensive, but the consumer is assured the specifications on labels match the container contents.

Many new agreements and legislation in recent years assure company reliability and safety control. Extra Virgin Olive Oil, the category mainly produced in Greece (75% of total Greek production) comes in four categories: Regular Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Organic Extra Virgin, Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) Extra Virgin and Protected Geographical Indication (PGI). In fact, most of Greek olive oil could be considered organic even though it may not have the official seal, as many producers do not apply fertilizers and spraying has been banned. Also, most certainly all regionally available olive oils with no national distribution could well claim the designation of PDO as they are locally produced and packaged, or PGI as they are locally produced and/or packaged.

Given that Spain and Italy have higher production rates as stated above, why this does not apply for other countries? The answer is quite simple; olive oil imports in Greece are virtually nonexistent. In 2013, Spain, Italy, and Greece imported 169,000 tons, and Italy imported 481,000 tons, while Greece imported a mere 6000 thousand tons – and this small amount may not have been used for edible consumption and also includes the consumption in the non olive oil producing portions of the country. The only olive oil available in Greece is Greek olive oil, no danger of getting any other kind of origin of olive oil. There are no blends or mixtures of Greek and foreign olive oils, something that is common practice in other olive oil producing countries. When it says Greek olive oil, there is nothing else present except Greek olive oil.
Yet, there is still much left over for exporting. Still, there is enough left for almost half of the annual production (app. 195,000 tons) to be exported. In fact Greece is the world’s largest exporter of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The olive oil industry in the world is well aware of the superior quality and the excellent organoleptic properties of Greek olive oil. The exported Greek olive oil is blended with other local oils in order to grant its unparalleled taste and aroma to olive oil packaged and sold elsewhere. Greek Olive Oil is mainly exported to the E.U., 90% of total olive oil exports (80% in bulk plus 10% Greek branded olive oil). There is a rise of exports though towards other non-European countries such as Canada, U.S.A., Australia, Japan and an opening for new markets such as China, Southeast Asia, Argentina and others. So the original question, “Why Greek Olive Oil?” can now be answered easily. As always, the answer is Quality!

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