Greek olive oil cannot find its way to the world’s markets. Only 3% of olive oil brands worldwide are Greek. Why does that happen?
In the birthplace of the Mediterranean Diet, people consume big quantities of extra virgin oil. It is the main source of fat for Greeks, or at least it was before our culture and eating habits slid towards the modern way of life.
Having realized the health benefits of olive oil, the average Greek consumes approximately 16 kilograms of olive oil per year. Compare that to 0.5 kilograms for the average Englishman or American.
Greeks use olive oil for salad dressings, especially on the popular Greek salad, cooking and even deep frying. After all, olive oil is found to be the healthiest option to cook with, especially when compared to other vegetable oils.
As a result, approximately 58% of Greek olive oil is distributed within Greece.
In addition, the interaction between the Greek and Italian olive oil models further handicaps Greek EVOO’s market share.
Over the past decades, large Italian olive oil companies have developed a strong brand name and extensive distribution networks throughout the world, which led to an enormous market share for Italian brands.
Because Italians consume more olive oil than Italy produces, Italian companies needed to import large quantities of olive oil from Greece and other countries, which didn’t have strong brand names or extensive distribution networks.
It is common practice for Italian olive oil manufacturing companies to import bulk olive oil from different origins, qualities and specifications and then blend them to produce a branded product which is then re-exported as “Italian olive oil” to international markets for final consumption.
42% of Greek olive oil is exported. Approximately 69% of it is exported in bulk to Italy.
The combination of these factors explains the low market share of Greek olive oil in international markets.