According to leading olive oil publication, Olive Oil Times, the major organisations of producers, exporters, and other olive oil professionals in Greece, have united under the one roof of the National Interbranch Olive Oil Association, and have devised a national strategy to create a stable environment for the olive oil industry and, in the long term, increase the annual exports of Greek standardised olive oil to 100,000 tons from about 40,000 tons currently shipped abroad.
Olive oil is an extremely important product of the Greek agricultural sector, being the main source of income for more than 500,000 families in the country and adding more than 1 billion euros to the annual GDP.
The strategy includes certain measures and provisions targeting the production chain.
An essential step, according to the group, is to apply economies of scale to reduce costs at harvest time, which are relatively high in Greece compared to other countries due to the fragmentation of the olive groves and of the production process. This can be achieved by using financial incentives like tax reductions for producers to form associations, or by using the EU’s National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) to fund mergers and create clusters of producers and exporters.
Cost is also amplified at the mills, where producers commonly ask for their crops to be separately processed. This means that more time and energy are required to process the olives and a change in the mindset of producers is needed to accelerate the procedure.
It is further proposed that, by working together with the state, a simplified and modernized legislative framework for building and operating olive oil mills, bottling facilities, and refinery plants should be created. Moreover, an effective way to manage the waste produced at the mills is crucial, along with provisions for successfully utilizing water resources by building dams and irrigation systems where needed.
In terms of promoting and selling olive oil, a re-evaluation of all the Protected Destination of Origin (PDO) labels is proposed to identify possible weaknesses and further strengthen the product. The strategy also finds that the internal olive oil market is well-organized, and new markets abroad must be developed aggressively.
It is remarkable though that during the eight years of recession, the sector managed to increase the exports of bottled olive oil to reach 40,000 tons per year from 15,000 tons before the financial crisis emerged.
An important point of the strategy is a parafiscal tax, suggested being imposed on all professionals in the olive oil sector to ensure that adequate funding is available to support the sector and promote the Greek olive oil.
This scheme has already been applied in Spain and lately in Tunisia, wherein the case of Spain it amounts to €6 per ton of olive oil, returning a total of more than €6 million a year to the organizations and unions of olive oil to fund their actions.
Estimates from most regions show that next season’s harvest will be strong in Greece and, despite the inherent weaknesses and imperfections of the sector, the cooperation of all stakeholders can significantly improve the status of Greek olive oil.
*Read the full article at Olive Oil Times