The Greek Olive Oil Sector in 2021: The Year in Review

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In 2021, the Greek olive oil sector continued to show that its products offer both superb flavor and impressive health benefits. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, economic struggles, climate change, etc., Greek olive oils have won awards for quality and healthy components, and new discoveries and innovations have helped offset some of the difficulties.

As the world continued to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, many consumers became more interested in healthy foods. Emmanouil Karpadakis, olive oil specialist and vice-president of the Association of Exporters of Crete, believes that “the pandemic has had a positive effect on the consumption and exports of extra virgin olive oil since in a good percentage of consumers’ minds, quality extra virgin olive oil is closely linked to our health and well-being“, as well as our enjoyment of our food.

In 2021, as in previous years, hundreds of awards from international olive oil quality competitions have helped demonstrate that Greek olive oil is a tasty and healthy food. Many believe that Greece’s most important prize came from the olive oil competition often considered the strictest in the world: the International Olive Council Mario Solinas Quality Award. For the first time in 13 years, a Greek extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) – Grand Cru de Terra Creta – has won a first prize at this prestigious competition. This award and many others propelled the Terra Creta Grand Cru to 2nd place worldwide in the EVOO World Ranking (WR) list of the best EVOOs in the world-the first time a Greek extra virgin olive oil has made it so high on this list.

According to the EVOO WR lists for the whole world, extra virgin olive oils of the Koroneiki variety and flavored olive oils from Greece won the majority of the top awards in their categories in 2021. Laconiko and Sakellaropoulos Organic Farms were notable for both types of olive oil, and these two Greek companies dominated the top of the flavored/infused olive oil list. Excellent also with extra virgin and flavored olive oils, Mediterre Eurofood SA has been ranked among the top four olive oil companies in the world by EVOO WR.

Although all good olive oil is nutritious and tasty, many Greek extra virgin olive oils are particularly notable for their health benefits, as indicated numerous awards last year in international competitions focusing on the healthy components naturally present in olive oil. Top rewards included a first place for Liokareas Olive Oil and other top ten Greek oils in 2020/2021 Contest for the best healthy EVOO in the world in Spain, as well as numerous awards for high levels of beneficial natural compounds in Greek extra virgin olive oils at the Berlin Global Olive Oil Awards, Olympia Health & Nutrition Awards, Aristoleo Awards and the London International Olive Oil Competitions.

Dr. Eleni Melliou, president of the World Olive Center for Health and pharmacognosy researcher at the University of Athens, considers extra virgin olive oil “the best source of fat anyone could use for cooking or in raw form during a pandemic.“Melliou points out that this is especially true when EVOO contains high levels of beneficial natural compounds called phenols. As Melliou explained to Greek Liquid Gold, “highly phenolic olive oil has anti-inflammatory and anti-thrombotic activities,” among other benefits. This is important because ‘inflammation is implicated in almost every disease’ and thrombosis (a blood clot blocking a blood vessel, which can be one of the complications of COVID-19) can lead to stroke and seizure. cardiac.

In 2021, one of many research projects that brought together Greek scientists and olive oil producers to explore the various health benefits of olive oil concluded with its final publication on the effect of EVOO on human volunteers with mild cognitive impairment. Although larger studies are needed to confirm the results – and another has already begun – exciting early results suggest that moderate to high phenolic extra virgin olive oil may safely help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Further research into the healthy components of EVOO has indirectly led to the opening of a shop in Athens dedicated to highly phenolic olive oils. It may be the only store in the world to offer an in-store lab test to check levels of beneficial compounds before a consumer purchases an olive oil. I

Publishing the results of scientific studies and competitions has provided encouragement and validation that has been especially valuable in another year of COVID-19. Eleni Melliou suggests that people who cooked at home “were looking for high-quality products that were good for their health, so many producers with online stores have increased their sales. As agricultural economist Vassilis Zampounis, editor-in-chief of Olive & Olive Oil and Olivenews.gr, points out, “the pandemic has given a strong boost to the consumption of olive oil (and other foodstuffs)”, thanks to the predominance of home cooking during periods of confinement. and caution. However, Zampounis has seen a change since the reopening of restaurants and hotels: “HoReCa uses seed oils to a large extent.” Because of this, he reported, olive oil prices rose until May “but then followed a downward trend.”

Emmanouil Karpadakis told Greek Liquid Gold that he sees the situation for people working with Greek olive oil towards the end of 2021 as “difficult due to reduced production in some areas and increased price” of energy and goods. The harvest that began in the fall of 2021 “qualitatively is better than the previous year, but the quantity produced should be lower. There are challenges to overcome, such as climate change, olive cultivation, international production and consumption, and changes in consumer preferences and food patterns.

Olive oil consultant and food policy scientist Vasilios Frantzolas expects the 2021 harvest to lead to “lower sales, lower income, due to the much lower production mainly due to the heat waves that hit flowering in early May 2021″. However, “speaking of quality, referring to bottled olive oils, it was a good year, promising even better oils for the next few years.” Frantzolas noticed “a steady increase of new brands on the market, some very interesting ones coming either from ‘overlooked’ olive varieties like Koutsourelia, or from superb, well-known varieties like Makris, but extracted even more carefully” to achieve the well-balanced and fruity the extra virgin olive oils that he deems most appealing to a majority of international consumers.

Eleftheria Germanaki, director of the Crete Sensory Evaluation Laboratory and judge of the International Olive Oil Competition, told Greek Liquid Gold that she saw “an increased demand for reliable and realistic education” from Greek millers and bottlers interested in learning how to “produce high quality extra virgin olive oil.For this reason, his lab has developed online training during the pandemic to continue their educational mission. Other establishments’ online conferences on innovation presented more new ideas and solutions to Greek producers. Germanaki suggests that student prizes in olive oil competitions imply that education can lead to big changes with impressive results.

Even as the COVID-19 pandemic continues and Greece and the world face unprecedented challenges, Greek olive oil producers continue to provide consumers with a wide variety of flavors and health benefits under the most nutritious and perhaps the most environmentally friendly type of edible oil on the planet.


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 the advertising and sponsorship opportunities on the Greek Liquid Gold website: Authentic Extra Virgin Olive Oil. 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.

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(This story originally appeared on Greek Liquid Gold: Authentic Extra Virgin Olive Oil (greekliquidgold.com). Check out this site for recipes with olive oil, photos from Greece, and olive oil news and information.)

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