Yanni’s olive groves, sea, and sky

Yanni's Olive Grove is a family business in Nea Potidaia, Chalkidiki, in northern Greece. In the last three years, Yanni’s extra virgin olive oils (EVOOs) have received 35 awards at major international olive oil competitions, including acclaim as ultra-healthy EVOOs and listings as some of the Top EVOOs of the World, according to the EVOO World Ranking.

The story of this family business began five years ago, during the Greek economic crisis, and its road was not full of flowers. Yannis Prodromou and his wife Evi had been olive farmers all their lives, selling their fresh olives to big companies. In 2012, seeking the value their fine products deserved, they decided to put their olives on a different path. Yannis and Evi realized that olive trees produced not only olives, but many other products, such as olive oil, but it was very difficult to switch from table olive sales to olive oil production in their area, because the Chalkidiki area is known worldwide for its green table olives, and the couple knew nothing about the production of high quality EVOO.

Determined to change that, Yannis and Evi set out to educate themselves. They attended many seminars and visited many exhibitions in Greece, Italy, and other countries in order to learn the best practices of olive oil production according to International Olive Council (IOC) procedures. Their unstoppable thirst for knowledge and progress drove them to a unique institution, the American Farm School (AFS) in Thessaloniki, northern Greece. With the AFS’s help, they changed everything about their farming and production process that didn’t fit IOC recommendations. Ever since then, the cultivation, harvesting, standardization, and export of their EVOOs and olive snacks have been supervised by the Krinos Olive Center at the AFS.  

Now, Yanni’s Olive Grove produces EVOOs only from olives grown on their waterfront estate of 6000 olive trees of local varieties. The company established a processing plant for EVOO and other agricultural products in Nea Potidaia (EL40347) in order to minimize the time elapsing between extra virgin olive oil extraction (at a temperature below 27 degrees Celsius), storage (at 14-16 C), and bottling with nitrogen (to keep out the oxygen that can damage EVOO). The olives are harvested by hand, and the green olives are transported to the nearby olive processing plant in ventilated plastic crates within a few hours. Before processing, they are placed on a conveyor belt and carefully hand sorted to keep only the best olives.

Yanni’s Olive Grove ensures the high quality of all their products through ideal production conditions, as demonstrated by their video, their certifications, their awards, and their collaboration with the scientific community. The company has been recognized for its unique achievement as a model-pilot producer using intelligent agriculture olive tree cultivation supervised by Gaia Epicheirein. Yanni’s is the first company in Greece to be certified for the application of Good Practices in Olive Tree Agriculture by the American certification body Staregister International, Inc. and its representative in Greece, Paratus Europe, which is accredited by the American Accreditation body IAS. Yanni’s high-quality production process is FDA, ISO22000, ISO9001, ISO14001, and AGRO 2-1 & 2-2/3:2008 certified, and its olive trees are DNA certified by the Hellenic Agriculture Ministry.

Yanni’s Olive Grove emphasizes safety and environmental protection throughout their production and packaging process. Thanks to specialized cultivation practices and integrated management, only “green” practices are used, including recycling and waste management. To make their production process as transparent as possible, the company has developed and launched an online traceability system for its olive foods. Consumers can use the QR CODE and lot number on the back of the EVOO container to learn the date of production and expiration, the results of chemical and sensory analyses, and the specific area where the olive oil came from, which is visible online on a Google map.  

Yanni’s Olive Grove recently received a Gold award for its collaboration with the Greek Association of Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders (Alzheimer Hellas) on a scientific study. Yanni’s is supporting the first clinical trial in humans to evaluate the effects of different kinds of olive oil on amnesic patients diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment, which leads to Alzheimer’s disease. Yanni’s EVOOs have also been awarded for their impressive health benefits, which means that their EVOOs offer protection against the oxidation of blood lipids as well as providing the anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, cardioprotective, and neuroprotective properties of a very high-phenolic olive oil. Its award-winning lightweight packaging with a bright green heart in the center emphasizes its cardioprotective qualities.

Yannis, Evi, and their products at the Food Expo in Athens, 2017

In continuing collaboration with the Krinos Olive Center, Yanni’s Olive Grove recently launched a unique new product in the North American market: Sun-Dried Olive Snacks featuring green and black Chalkidiki olives, raisins, and dried cranberries. Arising from the philosophy of the healthy Mediterranean diet, while offering convenience as well as a tasty, harmonious blend of sweet, sour, and salty, this new olive food is perfect for healthy snacking. 

Within a few years of its rejuvenation, Yanni’s Olive Grove has achieved widespread acclaim as a company that produces high quality products; it was even listed as one of the Top 100 (olive oil producing) Societies of the World for 2016. As Yannis Prodromou says, “our persistence in following IOC regulations led us to export major quantities to the US and Canadian markets. We took one step at a time, starting by exporting just one carton, and now we are exporting pallets of our goods. Recently we agreed to sell many containers full of our products to the greatest North American importer of Greek food products.”

And his wife Evi added, “There are three keys to success:
1. Don’t stop believing in yourself and your products, and always keep trying regardless of the obstacles.
2. Don’t stop following the rules of quality, and do not try to bend them to make things easier.
3. Don’t stop being honest with yourself, and especially with your clients.
There are no second chances, because the market will not forgive or forget.”


By Evi Psounou Prodomou and Lisa Radinovsky