The Greek Olive Oil Situation

Manolis SalivarasMr. Manolis Salivaras, an expert on olive oil quality analysis, accredited by the International Olive Council’s Multichrom.Lab laboratory, recently spoke to Mary Grigoriadou of Grekomania during the recent first Olive Festival held in Thessaloniki. Following are some excerpts from that interview.

MG: Mr. Salivara, how do you feel the Olive Oil Festival went?

MS: The concept was interesting, since recently food festivals focusing on olive oil haven’t been taking place as in the past due to Greece’s ongoing economic problems.

MG: How big a player is Greece in the international olive oil scene?

MS: To be honest, we cannot compete with Italy and Spain and some other countries with their low prices. We lack the cooperation amongst producers that would otherwise make us more competitive globally. If you compare Greece with Spain and Italy as total oil producing entities, we do much better, however. Recently there’s been a move toward high premium oils, which again we lag in not because we don’t produce it, but because we’re not as organized as these other countries. However, Greek oil tends to be of higher quality due to the hurried production process in Italy and Spain.

MG: Is the government helping at all in efforts to promote the olive oil industry internationally?

MS: Greece’s government is missing in action in even the most simple things. But that’s not the main problem. The larger problem to me is the almost total lack of cooperation between olive oil producers in Greece.

The official Greek state with its players help?

In Greece the state is absent even from simple things. But for me this is not an excuse. More troubles that do collaborations individuals, although it is not an assistant state, which we also used.