two men harvesting olives in a grove using hand-held harvesters

Looking to the future, Greek experts anticipate challenges for the Greek olive oil sector, but also see potential for positive developments. Considering the situation of the Greek olive oil industry in and beyond 2022, including ongoing climate change and production and export models and plans, they offer a variety of predictions and recommendations.

a young man drinking fresh olive oil in an olive mill

Looking back at 2022, Greek experts shared their views on the Greek olive oil sector. They mentioned the large quantity of olive oil produced recently in Greece (in contrast to Spain and Italy), as well as its high quality and fairer price for producers. However, they were concerned about a shortage of laborers and the costliness of energy and fertilizer.

The Nutri-Score label for a product graded C

A debate continues in Europe about front-of-pack labeling systems for packaged food, with the European Commission (EC) planning to propose one scheme for mandatory use throughout the European Union. The EC is considering at least four labeling schemes, with the best-known, Nutri-Score, receiving significant criticism from the olive oil sector, among others.

two men in a vineyard in Crete, one holding a grapevine

The Hellenic Center for Excellence in Health & Wellness is being established as a non-profit in the USA to sponsor research and educational programs in Crete, Greece in partnership with the Grecotel hotel chain. The goal is to increase awareness of the health benefits of the traditional Cretan diet and lifestyle, starting with an autumn conference in Crete.

A member of parliament and the secretary general of CIHEAM cutting the ribbon for the garden, with spectators around them

A Garden of Peace with 21 varieties of olive trees was inaugurated on July 19 at the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania (MAICh) in Crete, Greece. The trees come from the 21 olive-growing countries that represent 95% of the world’s olive production. Viewed as a symbol of peace for millennia, olive trees are the sole focus of this new garden.

an olive branch with olives and a partly cloudy, partly blue sky in the background

Five Greek olive oil experts discuss their expectations for the future of Greek olive oil. They express concern about substantial challenges that the sector must confront. 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.

an olive oil producer drinking fresh olive oil from a glass in the mill

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

The Olive Lab & Shop, with shelves full of olive oil bottles on the right, a counter in the center, steps in the back leading up to the lab, and a refrigerator on the left

Near the Panathenaic Stadium where the first modern Olympic Games took place in Athens, Greece, we find another “first” that builds on a central component of Greek culture and cuisine, olive oil. The Olive Lab & Shop is unique in featuring only olive oils certified with a European health claim, and testing them for healthy polyphenols right in the store.

olive branches with olives in the foreground, olives groves, hills, and sky in the background

In 2019, UNESCO officially declared November 26 World Olive Tree Day and added it to the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage. The International Olive Council embraced the holiday, which is also known as World Olive Day or World Olive and Olive Oil Day. The olive tree and its products are now celebrated on this day with events in many countries.

The Nutri-Score front-of-pack nutrition label, with the letters A, B, C, D, and E lined up in different colored boxes, with dark green for A, followed by light green for B, yellow for C, orange for D, and red for E. In this image, the yellow spot for C is a larger oval than the other spots, indicating a C grade.

The Exporters’ Association of Crete, the Region of Crete, and eight Cretan groups and chambers of commerce have published a letter objecting to Nutri-Score, the French front-of-pack nutrition rating system that is being considered for use throughout the European Union. The letter contends that the Nutri-Score system is flawed and should not be adopted.

a closeup of Maria Giannakos in the forest

For millennia, olive oil has been associated with a long, healthy life. In the last half century, hundreds of scientific studies have provided evidence for its health benefits. Living over 100 years, Maria Giannakos appreciated the advantages of a traditional Greek Mediterranean lifestyle: an active life with family, kindness, and an olive oil rich diet.

the very wide, bulging, textured trunk of an ancient olive tree, with a small wooden sign that says "Arnold Schwarzenegger" tied around it

Arnold Schwarzenegger, a celebrity chef, and several German actors are sponsoring ancient olive trees on the island of Crete in Greece. Their donations and the resulting publicity help preserve these impressive Greek natural monuments, which are in danger of destruction due to financial pressures and inadequate awareness of their multi-faceted value.

a man reaching up with a long harvester to harvest olives from a tall tree

For much of the Greek olive oil sector in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic provoked the perseverance required to meet challenges and achieve success. With great dedication, many Greek olive oil producers turned a year of illness, lockdowns, and grief into a time for honoring olive oil’s health benefits and flavors and emphasizing its key role in a healthy diet.  

a closeup photo of Pamako founder Eftychis Androulakis

For the first time, says Pamako’s Eftychis Androulakis, an extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) has been officially approved as a food supplement. While EVOO is also a healthy natural food, this early harvest Greek olive oil is so rich in antioxidants, and is produced, stored, and bottled with such care, that it can be prescribed by Belgian and Luxembourg doctors.

2 vials of Eureka olive oil next to a gold box

In a unique Greek-American collaboration, the World Olive Center for Health is working with the UC Davis Olive Center to raise money for olive oil research by selling extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) called Eureka. Packaged in a box that looks like a bar of gold, Eureka contains two vials of high phenolic “liquid gold”—that is, especially healthy EVOO.

Diamantis Pierrakos in front of a crate of harvested olives

Although the Greek government has declared a second COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, Greece’s olive harvest and olive oil production are continuing. Some seasonal labor shortages and mobility issues may cause minor delays, but several olive oil professionals remain optimistic that bottled Greek extra virgin olive oil will reach global consumers in good time.

fresh olive oil pouring out of a stainless steel pipe in an olive mill

This year’s olive crop in Greece is not expected to yield an immense quantity of olive oil, but producers in different parts of the country report that they made very high quality early harvest extra virgin olive oil. Others who start their harvest later also predict very good quality. Any labor shortages due to the pandemic seem to be surmountable.

closeup of green olives on a branch against a bright blue sky

In its September 2020 Newsletter, the International Olive Council (IOC) provides overviews of various past and future meetings, including one focused on revising olive oil sensory analysis methods. The IOC also highlights its digital library of books available for free downloading and offers a synopsis of the global trade in olive oil and table olives.  

purple olives on a tree with a blue and sky with some clouds behind them

Representatives of the top nine olive oil producing and consuming countries discussed their forecast for the 2020/21 olive growing season during an online conference that was organized and moderated by strategic analyst Juan Vilar of Spain. They analyzed various estimates for olive oil production, consumption, inventories, prices, and international trade.

politicians and company and union representatives who attended the October 1 event in Sitia

As the millennium began, some of the world’s top awards went to extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) from the Union of Agricultural Cooperatives of Sitia in Greece. Although its members kept making excellent EVOO, the Union ran into fiscal difficulties. Now a new company, LASITIA, seeks to return the best Sitian olive oil to its rightful place in global markets.

a closeup of Women in Olive Oil founder Jill Myers

In April 2020, Jill Myers founded Women in Olive Oil (WIOO), starting with a small Facebook group that expanded globally in just a few days. On Facebook, WIOO summarizes its goal: “to contribute to individual and societal advancement of women through the common link of olive oil.” The movement has now grown to include 1200 women in almost 50 countries.

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