Nature Blessed bottles of olive oil and flavored olive oil on a table

This year, a Greek law requires restaurants to replace the refillable olive oil containers on their tables with sealed, non-refillable or disposable, properly labeled bottles. Offering various bottles to restaurants, Greek olive oil companies are ready to showcase the high quality and health benefits of appropriately packaged Greek extra virgin olive oil.

As Alexandros Bikas wrote in Agronews.gr, more than 600 officially certified olive oil standardization companies are in "full readiness" for this measure. Panayiotis Karantonis, Deputy Director of the Association of Greek Industries and Packers of Olive Oil (SEVITEL), told Greek Liquid Gold that many olive oil companies are producing special packaging for restaurants, mostly in 50, 60, and 100 ml bottles, each meant for just one table (with leftovers purchased for home use by customers or used for cooking in the restaurant kitchen).

Chloe Dimitriadis of Biolea, producer and bottler of an unusual stone milled, cold pressed organic extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), laments that in the past “most restaurant owners would prefer to use bulk olive oil or perhaps their own production of olive oil served in little glass containers on tables.” The problem, she tells Greek Liquid Gold, was that “no matter how excellent the quality of this olive oil was in the beginning of its production, one day in those transparent glass containers on a taverna table on a sunny August day is enough to completely damage its quality. This does not only reflect badly on the restaurant, but also on all olive oil producers in Crete.”

Fortunately, Dimitriadis has noticed “an increase in local chefs promoting packaged local products such as wine and olive oil.” And now the government aims to usher in additional quality control, since properly labeled, sealed bottles contain a certified product and keep out the air that can degrade an olive oil’s flavor, aroma, and nutritious compounds.

Not far from Biolea in Crete, Emmanouil Karpadakis of Terra Creta reports that his company began developing specialized products for the food services sector two years ago, because they recognized a need for that. “These products are already exported to three countries and also can be found in good Greek restaurants and hotels.” Terra Creta was ready for the new law with “suitable packaging (small glass bottles)”; after the law came into force, they also developed two new items, 20 ml and 60 ml glass bottles of Terra Creta’s EVOO.

Ioanna Damianaki of Nature Blessed, which sells extra virgin olive oil made from olives grown at the foot of Mount Olympus, explained to Greek Liquid Gold that her company has been offering a variety of products in 100 ml glass bottles for some time: extra virgin olive oil and olive oil dressing flavored with oregano, oregano and chili, or rosemary. (The 100 ml bottles are “easy to carry when traveling by airplane,” so they have also been sold in tourist shops and delicatessens for three years now.) Damianaki believes the Greek restaurant law “is really good for food safety, and sooner or later owners and customers will support it.”

Ioannis Kampouris of ELAWON, with EVOO from near ancient Mycenae in the Peloponnese, tells Greek Liquid Gold that his company did “a market survey right after the bill was voted” into law, “and we are already working with gourmet restaurants and prime luxury hotels.” They offer two packages: one with EVOO in a 50 ml glass spray perfume bottle, and another with EVOO in a single use 100 ml tin. (Agronews reports that Kampouris sent ELAWON perfume bottles of olive oil to Tom Hanks and Jennifer Aniston.) ELAWON also has a 250 ml tin and a 500 ml bottle for use in restaurant kitchens. These new products are “expected to absorb 10% of our annual EVOO production.”

Kampouris believes “customers welcomed the new measure, and entrepreneurs are wondering whether they will charge customers or absorb the cost themselves.” In either case, “ELAWON's goal is to upgrade the provided services in the dining area, especially because tourism is increasing rapidly in Greece.”

As Greek Liquid Gold explained in more depth in another article, many other Greek olive oil industry leaders, company representatives, and restaurant association officers have also expressed enthusiastic support for the new law, which they expect to improve the freshness, flavor, quality, food safety, and health benefits of olive oil on restaurant tables, impressing international visitors and promoting Greek olive oil and Greek gastronomy abroad. At the same time, it is believed, restaurants will become a significant new market for bottled and branded Greek olive oil, leading to more investment and jobs in standardization facilities, more certification and quality control, and greater added value for olive oil producers.

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Thanks to Nature Blessed and ELAWON for sharing the photos of their bottles.

Comments

Hi Mick, thanks for your excellent question. The law does not require that plastic containers be used; glass is also fine. Even so, some have expressed concern about the likely increased use of disposable packaging. Some have responded that it will be recycled, and that much of the packaging will also be made from recycled materials. Still, some have suggested that it be clarified that non-refillable packaging that is not single-use is acceptable. Others have urged a change in the law to allow the use of nonrefillable bottles that may be moved from one table to another until they are empty, which would enable larger, less wasteful packaging to be used on restaurant tables, but I do not believe this change has been made so far (July 2018).

Has any consideration been given towards the impact that all those little plastic bottles will have on the environment?

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