Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Press Release: World’s First Greek Olive Oil Info Site in English Celebrates 1st Birthday


American consumers worry about the high price of Italian olive oil. Greeks continue to struggle with economic difficulties eight years into a crisis. And the Greek olive oil that could help support both a Greek recovery and reasonable olive oil prices does not get the international attention it needs. For the past year, an American living in Crete has been trying to change that with the world’s first independent English-language website focused on Greek olive oil, Greek Liquid Gold: Authentic Extra Virgin Olive Oil (www.greekliquidgold.com).

In the past two years, Lisa Radinovsky has conversed with a Greek ship captain turned olive farmer, an Italian computer programmer who produces olive oil in Greece, an ancient Greek teacher who sells olive oil with edible gold flakes in the Middle East, and dozens of other Greeks in the olive oil industry. And she has shared their stories on her website.
Radinovsky’s olive oil education began when she started writing for the online American publication Olive Oil Times. She soon came to believe that Greek olive oil producers and exporters were not getting the credit they deserved for their efforts to produce high quality, healthy olive oil—a higher percentage of extra virgin than any other country.  

A former English professor accustomed to sharing what she learned, Radinovsky decided to create the outlet for Greek olive oil news and information that did not yet exist. She included sections on the health benefits of olive oil and the Mediterranean diet and added photos, recipes, and agrotourism and culinary tourism suggestions to appeal to a broad readership. She teamed up with another Princeton alum, Dimitris Doukas of Twin Net Information Systems Ltd. in Athens, to create this new website.

In the first year since the website’s launch, Radinovsky has published over 100 original, in-depth articles on it, and a number of them have been republished in Australia, Greece, the USA, Spain, and Italy. She has covered such topics as olive oil prices, predictions for olive oil production, olive mill visits, types of olive oil, the history of olive oil in Greece, and Greek olive oil companies’ innovations, support for Alzheimer’s research, and awards.

Radinovsky has gained the attention and support of the major Greek olive oil industry organizations, multi-award winning Greek olive oil companies, and numerous experts in the olive oil world, publishing interview-based articles as part of her original reporting. After just one year, the website has readers in 131 countries, while its companion Facebook page has more than 1,000 followers.

Radinovsky reports that Greek olive oil producers, marketers, exporters, and tasters have thanked her for “providing a new way for them to reach out to the world and share their voices, so they have more chances to share their products.” For example, Evi Psounou Prodomou of Yanni’s Olive Grove believes Greek Liquid Gold “is an accurate and independent website” that “gives an equal chance to anyone in the EVOO business.” James Panagiotopoulos of PJ KABOS considers Greek Liquid Gold “a great, reliable source to find any information one can imagine about Greek olive oil.”  

Evgenia Andriopoulou of Makaria Terra explains that “Greek Liquid Gold provides an integrated platform for the promotion of the qualities of the best Greek olive oils. It certainly fills a gap. Despite the fact that there is a clear attempt to promote Greek olive oils, the articles and posts remain completely fair. All is based on facts, and this is good not only for the site and its development, but for the overall promotion and the preservation/improvement of the integrity of quality Greek olive oil.” 
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Note: this press release may be freely published as long as a live link to the site discussed, www.greekliquidgold.com, is included. For more information, please contact info@greekliquidgold.com.

First Estimates for 2017/18 Olive Oil Production Compared


The first estimates of the amount of olive oil to be produced by the major olive oil producing nations in the next crop year (October 1, 2017 to September 30, 2018) were published recently. While there is naturally some disagreement, and it is early to make predictions, a significant increase over this year’s olive oil production levels seems likely.

Writing on the English page of his Greek online paper Olive News , Vassilis Zampounis described his expectations for production in the upcoming olive crop year “compared to the current year’s production in the 8 leading olive oil producers that make up to 90% of the world olive oil production.” Including a chart comparing last year’s production with this year’s estimates (in metric tons), Zampounis explained, “the average expected increase for 2017/18 is 405,000 tons or 18.6%. In the case of the highest expected production,” which he estimates at 2,730,000 tons, “the increase will reach 555,000 tons (+25.5%). In the lowest production scenario,” or 2,430,000 tons, “the total increase will be 255,000 tons (11.7%).” Zampounis is both the editor of Olivenenews.gr and the director of the Society of Oliveand Olive Oil Products of Certified Quality (EL3P). 

The Spanish magazineMercacei reported on the “the forecast by Álvaro Olavarría, Managing Director of Oleoestepa,” a large cooperative, with an emphasis on the world’s largest olive oil producer, Spain, and the prediction that it will produce “1,250,000 tons in the 2017/18 season compared to 1,281,950 tons in the previous one.” Providing a chart with information about the top 8 olive oil producing nations dating back to the 2013/14 harvest year, Mercacei added, “olive oil production in the main producing countries will reach a total of 2,745,000 tons, increasing by 11% over the 2016/17 season, according to these forecasts.”

Spanish language publications are now sharing the international estimates of Juan Vilar, strategic consultant and professor at the University of Jaén, and Jorge Pereira, Professor at the University of the Republic of Uruguay, who expect the next olive oil campaign to produce a total of 2.827 million tons, for a 5% increase over the current crop year according to their calculations. Olivenews.gr published a Greek version of the report, along with Vilar and Pereira’s table featuring estimates in Spanish with data from the 57 olive oil producing countries that make up 93 percent of the world’s production. This table forecasts 1.2 million tons of olive oil from Spain, 290,000 from Tunisia, 280,000 from Italy, 265,000 from Greece, 200,000 from Turkey, together anticipated to be the producers of almost 80% of the world’s olive oil next year, assuming the weather cooperates.


Teatro Naturaleweighed in, only in Italian so far, with a comparison of the estimates of Mercacei, Olive News, and its own June 2 and updated estimates, suggesting the other sources may overestimate Italy’s likely production level. Reproducing the charts from Mercacei and Olive News, Teatro Naturale added a third which compares these three sources’ estimates with its own earlier forecast, commenting that there is “a degree of uniformity in the data, with the exception of Tunisia and Turkey.” (That is true of Vilar and Pereira’s predictions, as well, which call for considerably more olive oil from Turkey than the other sources.) Teatro Naturale proceeded to update its own expectations (leaving its chart a bit outdated), now estimating 1,150,000 metric tons of olive oil production in Spain, 250,000 in Italy, 250,000 in Greece, 200,000 in Tunisia, 90,000 in Morocco, 100,000 in Portugal, and 220,000 in Turkey, with Syria a big question mark given the war. Their conclusion is an estimate of 2.3 million metric tons from the Mediterranean and 2.4 million tons total, worldwide.  

Interestingly, Vassilis Zampounis’s low and high estimates of 2.43 to 2.73 million metric tons from the main producing nations is quite close to Teatro Naturale’s low expectation of 2.3 million tons and Mercacei’s higher prediction of 2.745 million tons. (Note that this does leave out the minor producers, so that the total would be expected to be higher worldwide—as Vilar and Pereira’s forecast of 2.827 million tons globally also suggests.) There is more disagreement over the percent increase compared to the current crop year (2016/17), which may relate to differing calculations of this year’s production totals as well as next year’s. Teatro Naturale does not offer a percentage. Vilar and Pereira estimate just a 5% increase, while Mercacei expects 11% more olive oil in the coming crop year, and Zampounis anticipates at least that much, and up to 25.5% more than last year.

In spite of the variations in the estimates and the early date, months before the earliest harvests begin in Greece in October, Zampounis told Greek Liquid Gold that as long as they are timely, relevant, and precise, “predictions are always useful, because they inform those involved in the market: producers, olive mill owners, merchants, bottlers. Transparency helps healthy competition. If, for example, there is surplus offer, then the logical thing to expect will be a decline of prices. In case of scarcity, prices will rise.” He especially respects “the Spanish ministry of agriculture and the interprofessional organizations of that country” as “models of information and transparency.”

Zampounis explains that predictions “can have an important influence on the prices,” and hence on “the decision whether to sell stock or keep more products in stock.” Although Zampounis has some reservations about making price predictions at this point, he informed Greek Liquid Gold that he suspects that “until the fresh olive oils hit the market (end of November, December) the prices will be stable, with some possible outbursts of price hikes due to demand for certain special qualities, etc. Starting in January 2018, prices will probably be moving normally (maybe with a small decline), influenced by other factors such as sales trends.”

Zampounis also cautioned that “the data must be monitored closely,” since “there is always the chance of unexpected weather conditions, especially in the era of climate change.” Given the need for careful monitoring, “the role of experienced professionals and agronomists who are on the spot and closely monitoring the olive groves is key.” Stay tuned for updates as they appear on Greek Liquid Gold: Authentic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, where this article was originally published.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Olive Oil Prices Vary; Greece Offers Excellent Options


Although recent news headlines warn of soaring olive oil prices, these increases are neither universal nor uniform. The world has seen lower olive oil production levels this decade, and excellent extra virgin olive oil is still available at prices that are more than reasonable given the work put into creating its high quality and striking health benefits.


Emiko Terazono wrote about olive oil price increases in a recent Financial Times article, “Mediterranean drought sends olive oil prices surging,” which has been copied and quoted repeatedly. Many sources do confirm that prices have increased due to weather problems that reduced olive oil production in Spain, Greece, Tunisia, and especially Italy in the 2016-17 crop year, with price increases becoming more apparent recently due to a time lag before new olive oils reach store shelves.

However, it is worth noting that the amount of the increase varies considerably depending on the consumer’s location and the olive oil producer or exporter, as Greek Liquid Gold reported in February and has now reconfirmed.

When Panayotis Karantonis, director of the Greek Association of Olive Oil Processors and Packers, told Terazono “Italy is terrible, Greece is terrible, and Tunisia is terrible,” he was not referring to olive oil quality, but to production levels, which fortunately did not fall as much in the olive oil producing giant, Spain, as it did in the other main producing countries—a crucial point to note, as Karantonis explained to Greek Liquid Gold.

Terazono also mentioned that worldwide olive oil production levels are higher than in 2012 and 2014. In fact, the CEO of Luque Ecológico, Juan Manuel Luque, has estimated this year’s Spanish olive crop as “lower than what some operators expected,” but still “among the best ten in history.”  





Karantonis informed Greek Liquid Gold that “the most recent data concerning olive oil production world-wide and also in the major producing countries” will be available after this week’s International Olive Council annual meeting in Rome; before that, it may be premature to discuss production numbers. Furthermore, we will need to wait until the end of June or the beginning of July for “a more reliable forecast for next year and a much clearer picture of the market,” since this year’s olive oil market will be affected by the prospects for next year.


As Karantonis explained to Greek Liquid Gold, even in this difficult harvest year “there are still excellent quality olive oils in Greece. Greece does not import extra virgin olive oil, so what you buy is authentic Greek extra virgin olive oil” (EVOO). The award-winning Greek olive oil exporters discussed in Greek Liquid Gold’s February article about olive oil supplies and prices recently reconfirmed that they are exporting high quality EVOO this year at prices ranging from the same as last year’s to 26% higher than last year.

Myrta Kalampoka of Eirini Plomariou in Lesbos suggested that Greek producers are still working to earn the reputation their EVOOs’ high quality deserves, so that many have not yet been able to increase their prices to a fair level. Kalampoka took time out from her agrotourism enterprise to tell Greek Liquid Gold that while Eirini Plomariou “exports only high quality olive oil” that is especially rich in healthy polyphenols, their prices remain “stable” compared with last year.

Similarly, Stratis Camatsos of evo3 Olive Farms in Lesbos explained that “the quality of EVOO that we export has been consistent throughout the years,” with an “acidity of about 0.3-0.4%,” yet his company has not changed their prices much since last year. Camatsos argues that “Greek olive oil is underrated, but it has been consistently shown to be some of the highest quality EVOO on the market when comparing polyphenols - which is what gives olive oil its health impact.”

Camatsos believes that on Lesbos “the prices have been lower than in most parts of Greece, and thus we have been able to keep our prices on par with previous years. Even if we do see a spike, we keep our prices relatively the same so our customers can still enjoy our olive oil at a price they are accustomed to, and therefore we lower our profit margin.”

Other Greek producers have also settled for a lower profit margin in order to keep their customers. For example, Kostas Kidonakis of Kidonakis Brothers in Crete told Greek Liquid Gold that his company had to pay 30% more for their olive oil this year, yet they increased their prices no more than 12%, absorbing most of the price increase and selling “at almost no profit,” although their EVOO “is certainly one of the highest qualities,” as its multiple awards suggest.

Evi Psounou Prodromou of Yanni’s Olive Grove in Chalkidiki, northern Greece also reports having excellent EVOO. Their prices increased 6 or 7% since last year. Prodromou argues that “consumers and buyers should buy Greek EVOOs, because most of the Greek producers are small companies, and they produce small quantities. Their only ‘weapon’ to sell against big foreign producers is the highest possible quality.” With smaller quantities, many focus more on quality.

Nikos Charamis of KASELL S.A., producers of Phileos and Nine EVOOs in Laconia, Peloponnese, explained to Greek Liquid Gold that they have also “managed to maintain our excellent quality despite the unfortunate conditions,” although they did need to increase their export prices by about 25% compared to last year. Even so, Charamis argues that Greece remains an excellent source of extra virgin olive oil because it produces a larger percentage of EVOO in comparison to its total olive oil production than any other country (estimated to be 80% or more of Greece’s total).


Maria and Athanasios Katsetos of Loutraki Oil Company, makers of ELEA EVOO, tell Greek Liquid Gold that their company goes beyond the awards and certifications visible on their website to do “rigorous quality testing by expert affiliated analytical chemists specializing in state-of-the-art methods for the quality assessment of olive oil,” also assessing olive oil stability during storage, and having trained olive oil tasters do a sensory evaluation. They did need to increase their prices about 26% this year since farmers were selling their EVOO at higher prices, which meant a reduction in their sales.

Even so, Maria and Athanasios Katsetos “believe that Greece is a very blessed country. From climate to terrain conditions to the combination of sea and mountainous regions, Greece makes up a perfect recipe for any agricultural production if used wisely, effectively and respectfully.”

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Thanks to everyone who provided comments for this article, and thanks to Yanni’s Olive Grove for the photos. 

Originally published on Greek Liquid Gold: Authentic Extra Virgin Olive Oil. This article may be republished without additional permission if the author, Lisa Radinovsky, is clearly acknowledged, and the republication comes with a live link to the original source, http://www.greekliquidgold.com/index.php/en/news/261-olive-oil-prices-vary-greece-offers-excellent-options.


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Press Release: New in English – A Website All About Greek Olive Oil


Chania, Crete, Greece. 
[This article may be republished without requesting permission.]
Greek Liquid Gold: Authentic Extra Virgin Olive Oil (A New Website)

As Italian restaurants donate income from pasta dishes to earthquake victims, an American living in Crete launched a website about Greek olive oil that features recipes, photos, information, and news. Offering original renditions of Greek recipes while highlighting the latest disclosures on olive oil’s health benefits alongside stories about olive oil production and use and culinary tourism, Lisa Radinovsky aims to help the ailing Greek economy.  

Radinovsky, an English professor turned writer and photographer, has teamed up with Dimitris Doukas, a Princeton-educated Greek computer scientist, and his team at Twin Net Information Systems Ltd. in Athens to create a new website all about Greek olive oils, greekliquidgold.com. Seeking to inform consumers, cooks, tourists, buyers, and importers worldwide about the quality and health benefits of Greek extra virgin olive oil, they hope to help increase demand for it. 

Researching and writing about Greek olive oil business news for the online publication Olive Oil Times, Radinovsky searched in vain for a comprehensive, up-to-date English-language source on her topic. Struck by Greeks’ use of olive oil in almost everything they cook or bake and impressed by Greeks’ efforts to produce, market, and export a high quality product in the midst of an economic crisis, she decided to create the information source she couldn’t find.

Launched in August, greekliquidgold.com features recipes and photos from Greece, information about olive oil, its production process, the Mediterranean diet, agrotourism and culinary tourism, and the latest news on Greek olive oil—something for everyone with an interest in Greece, cooking, healthy eating, or olive oil. Aris Kefalogiannis, CEO of Gaea, one of the major exporters of bottled Greek extra virgin olive oil worldwide, called the Greek Liquid Gold website “an excellent source of information and news on Greek extra virgin olive oil.”

The new site features original recipes from Greece as well as links to a variety of other recipes using olive oil and hints about cooking and baking with it. It includes a description of an olive oil tasting class, photo essays featuring Cretan olive groves and a botanical park, and stories about a Cretan sea captain turned olive farmer and a Greek-born Italian computer programmer who produced some of the best Greek olive oil of the year, to the surprise of his Italian compatriots.

Living in Crete for nearly 14 years, Radinovsky has learned from cooks, olive oil producers, and industry leaders throughout Greece. Moved by the “many dedicated farmers, exporters, and marketers who are striving for excellence against the odds,” she intends to bring their olive oils to the attention of those searching for both a good, healthy functional food and a way to help the Greek economy get back on its feet. Greek professor and olive oil researcher Dr. Prokopios Magiatis agrees that “olive oil is a main factor that can help Greece exit the crisis.”

With 80% of Greek olive oil belonging to the highest category, extra virgin, and Greece the third largest olive oil producer in the world, the National Bank of Greece estimates that Greek olive oil could bring in an additional 250 million euros annually if more were bottled and branded in Greece before export. Now, 70% of exported Greek olive oil is sent to Italy in bulk and blended with olive oils from various countries. Greek Liquid Gold highlights the Greek producers and exporters striving to change that as they look to foreign markets for a way out of the economic crisis.