Five Greek olive oil experts discuss their expectations for the future of Greek olive oil. They express concern about the considerable challenges facing the sector. Yet they also offer hope that by focusing on producing high-quality olive oil, Greek producers will be able to impress more consumers around the world with distinctive Greek flavors.
Emmanouil Karpadakis, olive oil specialist and vice-president of the Association of Exporters of Crete, points out that in the Greek olive oil world “there are challenges to be faced, such as climate change , olive cultivation, production and consumption internationally, and changes in consumer preferences and dietary patterns. Dr. Kiki Zinoviadou of Perrotis College at American Farm School in Thessaloniki agrees that the Greek olive oil sector must overcome “many hurdles,” including the increasingly apparent effects of climate change, which are driving “increased irrigation needs due to the long dry spells that many regions are facing.
Zinoviadou also mentions the growing competition in the olive oil sector around the world, for example from countries in the southern hemisphere. Olive oil consultant and food policy professional Vasilios Frantzolas has a similar concern, fearing that “the future of Greek olive oil may not be bright in the coming years due to increasing competition from our Mediterranean neighbours,” such as Turkey, Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt, given their major investments in the olive oil sector, as well as the need for better education and more bank financing in the Greek olive oil sector.
Furthermore, Odysseas Vlachavas, an olive oil taster and consultant, believes that “demands of market development and tough competitive conditions in recent decades have steered olive oil producers away from the strong advantage of high quality”. Most Greek olive oil experts share a concern for quality. For example, Zinoviadou argues that “Greek producers should become more outgoing and improve the export of bottled olive oil, focusing on the high quality and unique sensory characteristics of oils from Greek varieties.”
Looking on the bright side, Karpadakis believes that “Greek-branded extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) has a lot of potential to grow its presence in the international market, especially in ‘mature markets’, due to its authentic quality and the stability of its organoleptic profile” (its lasting aroma and flavor). Frantzolas emphasizes the importance of producing fruity extra virgin olive oils for the export market, as he believes that the vast majority of world demand is for aromatic, well-balanced or very fruity oils for regular enjoyment during and with meals. He welcomes the achievements of several new and established Greek brands in this direction.
In addition to the achievements of conscientious Greek producers who strive for excellence, an international trend encourages optimism. As “the Mediterranean diet is increasingly recognized around the world,” suggests Zinoviadou, “this will potentially lead to a large increase in olive oil consumption.” Like extra virgin olive oil which is one of its central components, the Mediterranean diet is widely hailed for its flavors and health benefits.
Dr. Eleni Melliou, president of the World Olive Center for Health and pharmacognosy researcher at the University of Athens, recommends a different approach to Greek olive oil that focuses on these health benefits. “In my opinion, the future [of Greek olive oil] is certainly related to the European Union health claim for olive oil. A small but growing number of Greek producers have focused on selling high phenolic extra virgin olive oils eligible for this health claim. These are EVOOs rich in polyphenols, natural compounds (such as oleocanthal) that have significant antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, and they have driven up prices from a number of producers.
While some encourage exploring the potential of olive oil as an ultra-healthy superfood, there are also Greek commentators who caution against an early harvest that yields very little oil and more spicy than fruity. Some Greek olive oil producers aim for the best flavor possible. Others strive for the most health benefits they can get (usually by aiming for very high phenolic EVOOs). Another group aims for an ideal balance of flavorful extra virgin olive oil with impressive health benefits. Another notable trend is the production of a wide variety of popular and acclaimed Greek infused olive oils.
In Greece, all these types of olive oil show promise. Incredibly fruity and flavorful extra virgin olive oils, exceptionally healthy EVOOs and flavored olive oils have won awards in the hundreds, attracting the interest of consumers around the world who are willing to pay well for high quality products. quality. When Greek producers pay attention to detail, strive for excellence, and bottle their olive oil under a Greek brand – whatever trend they wish to follow – many manage to overcome the multi-faceted challenges facing their sector. . As Vlacavas points out, “high quality is the future of Greek olive oil, the way to highlight cultivation practices, the different microclimates and the particularities that each variety hides, so that the oil Greek olive be recognized”.
All companies, organizations and competitions involved in Greek olive oil, the Mediterranean diet and/or agritourism or gastronomic tourism in Greece, as well as others interested in supporting Greeks working in these sectors, are invited to consider advertising and sponsorship opportunities on the Greek Liquid Gold: Authentic Extra Virgin Olive Oil website. The only large-scale, English-language site focused on news and information from the world of Greek olive oil, it has helped companies reach consumers in over 215 countries around the world.
Lisa Radinovski is the founder and author of www.greekliquidgold.com