‘Liquid gold’ rush

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Having recently engaged in a captivating conversation with the esteemed journalist Eleni Varvitsioti, whose compelling article on the olive oil world was featured in the Financial Times, I am excited to share a snippet of our insightful discussion, offering a glimpse into the fascinating world she explored in her piece.

“The climate impact and spike in prices have, however, at least prompted Greeks to consider how to extract more value from a crop that has long been taken for granted — an opportunity boosted by Greece’s relatively good harvest the previous season.

Greece, the world’s third-largest producer, has traditionally sold high-quality olive oil in bulk to its larger rivals Spain and Italy, who brand it and sell it on to the world’s consumers…

Some 82 per cent of Greece’s 300,000 tonnes of typical annual oil output is nevertheless high-quality extra virgin olive oil, which is largely used not for branded Greek exports but by Italian and Spanish producers to add flavour to their own oil, according to Giorgos Economou, director-general of Sevitel, an Athens-based group of olive oil companies.

“Let’s not blame the wicked Spanish and Italians, but our own inability to add value to Greek olive oil and sell it,” he said.

Cristina Stribacu, owner of LIÁ, an award-winning premium olive oil, is another entrepreneur who wants to see Greek produce in food shops abroad. She too laments the Greek tendency to export bulk oil, especially last year, when Spanish and Italian output fell 40 per cent because of extreme droughts, while Greece had a good year with 350,000 tonnes produced.

“Instead of taking advantage of the lack of Italian and Spanish products and placing our Greek olive oil on the shelves of international supermarkets, we just helped them to keep their place by selling to them in bulk,” said Stribacu.

Cristina Stribacu sells her premium olive oil LIÁ to Waitrose and other leading stores in the UK ”

Read the article @ Financial Times, ‘Liquid gold’ rush: Greece’s surging olive oil price lures exporters — and thieves, Eleni Varvitsioti.