Diamantis Pierrakos harvesting olives with a hand-held harvester

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.

COVID-19 has created a new environment and challenges” for both the olive oil sector as a whole, and for Terra Creta, an olive oil company in northwestern Crete, according to Emmanouil Karpadakis. “All levels of the production and supply chain are affected,” he said, “from suppliers and transporters to retailers and consumer behavior.” The change has not been completely negative. Terra Creta has seen “increased demand for quality extra virgin olive oil in some countries, mostly ‘mature markets,’” along with “declined interest in others,” Karpadakis noted.

sheep in a grassy olive grove

In response to the complex situation during the pandemic, Karpadakis reported, Terra Creta made “internal adjustments to comply with our government guidelines, to guarantee the best protection of our employees, and to preserve the superior quality of our products, focusing at the same time on keeping our production capacity at a high level to cover the increased demand.” Terra Creta has also helped support their community as it copes with Greece’s COVID-19 prevention measures.

At the same time, across the Atlantic Ocean in Manassas, Virginia, Laconiko olive oil company owners Dino and Diamantis Pierrakos watched many of the retail stores that carry their Greek extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) close temporarily to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Diamantis Pierrakos explained to Greek Liquid Gold that his family had worked with these stores for a decade: “they opened their door to our family and our family’s olive oil, offering their trust to us when we were a ‘no name’” rather than the “established brand” they are in the American market today. 

So “during this pandemic,” Pierrakos continued, “we felt the need and the duty to give back” to the businesses that were impacted “by offering 100% of our retail profits back to the stores. These are times we need to take care of each other. We cannot be selfish and think about financial profit when our neighbor is suffering or experiencing the opposite. If we take care of each other and make sure our neighbor is healthy, we will be healthy with them tomorrow.”

Like Terra Creta, Laconiko stayed open; their olive oil from Laconia, Peloponnese, Greece remained available to their customers. As they wrote in their March newsletter, the Pierrakos family and their team took “drastic measures to keep our work environment, employees, and our extended Laconiko family healthy and safe at this time of uncertainty.”

One reason to keep olive oil companies open when it is safe and permissible to do so is that they provide a product with extensive health benefits. The Pierrakos brothers emphasize that their Laconiko EVOO is “bursting with polyphenols (antioxidants) that support a healthy immune system.” Scientific studies provide evidence that extra virgin olive oil’s phenolic compounds may also offer antioxidant, antimicrobial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, cardioprotective, and neuroprotective benefits, and that they may help fight diabetes, cancer, metabolic syndrome, and neurological and skin diseases.

Given what scientists already know about the ways olive oil can help keep people well, and what they suspect and want to explore in more depth, Eleni Zotou donates some of her high phenolic organic Golden Tree extra virgin olive oil to several research studies and programs. Highlighting the health value of her EVOO from Kalyves, Chalkidiki in northern Greece, Zotou reports that one of her team’s main goals is to help people be and stay healthy. So the Golden Tree team continues to offer their healthy olive oil to consumers around the world, reaching as far as China and Taiwan.

Across the globe, healthy Greek extra virgin olive oil reaches consumers interested in good nutrition, high quality, and exceptional flavor. In and beyond Greece, conscientious producers, bottlers, exporters, and importers focus on how to provide these benefits while maintaining the safety and well-being of both employees and consumers, as well as supporting their communities.

Thanks to Diamantis Pierrakos for the photo of him harvesting olives, and to Emmanouil Karpadakis for the photo of sheep helping control the weeds in a Cretan olive grove.

All businesses, organizations, and competitions involved with Greek olive oil, the Mediterranean diet, or agrotourism or food tourism in Greece, as well as anyone else interested in supporting Greeks working in these sectors, are now invited to consider the advertising and sponsorship opportunities on the Greek Liquid Gold: Authentic Extra Virgin Olive Oil website. The only wide-ranging English-language website featuring news and information from the Greek olive oil world, it has now reached readers in more than 200 countries around the globe.

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