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.

sheep in a grassy olive grove

Greece has impressed many observers by keeping the coronavirus outbreak under control. Of course, its strict, early lockdown and social distancing rules also affected the economy. Amidst the challenges and changes that came with the COVID-19 pandemic, Greek olive oil companies have offered support for the health and safety of consumers and communities.

a black glass Pamako bottle being filled with olive oil

In April, Greek Liquid Gold described the varied effects of social distancing and closures on three Greek olive oil companies. As supermarket sales of olive oil increased, but specialty store and restaurant sales plummeted, Greek olive oil companies offered contrasting reactions. They recently provided updates on their responses to the coronavirus pandemic.

Eftychios Androulakis filtering his olive oil next to storage vats

Sandwiched between nations struggling with the coronavirus pandemic, Greece is a surprising success story. But with stay-at-home orders in place for a month, exporters of the country’s flagship products can hardly escape the impact of COVID-19. Three Greek olive oil companies exemplify the varied effects of social distancing and closures on Greek businesses.

bottles of olive oil on shelves in the Athens airport

Late Friday, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) published a notice in the Federal Register regarding its intention to re-open consideration of the tariffs imposed on European products in connection with the Airbus dispute described in Remove Olive Oil from Prospective Tariff List and in Greeks Respond to New American Tariffs on European Goods.

olive trees, blue sea, Monemvasia in the background

As Nikos Sakellaropoulos says, olives have been cultivated in Laconia, Peloponnese “for thousands of years. Between the Taygetus and Parnonas mountain ranges, you can find olive trees hundreds of years old. Here, our grandfathers passed along the notion that the olive tree is considered sacred and beneficial for everyone and everything around us.”

an olive grove sloping downhill, with the sea in the distant background

“The most beautiful olive tree valley that exists on earth,” suggests Cristina Stribacu, is in Messinia, a regional unit in southwest Peloponnese, Greece. Archaeological finds show that olive oil has been important there for millennia. Now, estimates Vasileios Stournaras, 15 million olive trees cover almost 29% of Messinia and 80% of its cultivated land.

a dark bottle of Gemstone flavored olive oil resting on a white and orange rock, with grass in the background that matches the olive oil's green label

According to the 2019 EVOO World Ranking (EVOOWR), Greece took home 447 awards from 21 international olive oil competitions, earning 34 designations as “EVOOs of the Year.” Ranking third after Italy and Spain in olive oil awards (as in the average amount of olive oil produced), Greece was especially noteworthy for its Koroneiki and flavored olive oils.

a cargo ship in the sea near the coast of Greece

Spanish olive oil and olives are on the list of European goods subject to new American tariffs, but Greek olive oil and olives are not. Many Greeks in this sector are relieved, but what does this really mean for them? There is hope that it will enable Greeks to increase their market share in the USA, but also concern that some tariffs have been imposed.

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