The majority of olive oil producers in Greece choose to export their produce in bulk to Italy at very low prices – lower than they export it to other countries – with Italian companies standardizing it and selling it at more than double the price both at home and in many countries abroad. At the same time, there is no Greek standardized olive oil as a branded final product at Italian supermarkets.
Is it because Greek olive oil is inferior in quality? On the contrary. At last year’s NYIOOCC Olive Oil Competition, considered the largest international competition in this category, Greek olive oil products reaped 99 awards, of which 45 were gold and 54 were silver.
Yet according to a recent report by the Greek Embassy’s Office of Economic and Commercial Affairs in Milan on Greek olive oil exports, all exported in bulk, 64.67% of the value of total olive oil exports and 75.88% of its total volume was directed in 2021 to the Italian market.
The value of olive oil exports from Greece to Italy amounted in 2021 to 345.5 million euros, up by 16.33% compared to 2020, while the volume of exports amounted to 111,610 tons from 132,844 tons in 2020, recording a decline of 15.98%. Greece is Italy’s second largest supplier of olive oil, with its relative share reaching 21.69% in 2021. Italy’s largest supplier is Spain, with a share reaching 61.53%.
This year producer prices for exports to Italy may be at relatively high levels, at €3.70-3.80 per kilogram, following the general trend related to reduced production, but low prices are the rule, typically below €3/kg. On Italian supermarket shelves olive oil products range from €4 to €9.50/kg.
The reasons producers choose bulk sales to Italy are that many Greeks produce olive oil themselves or have relatives producing it and providing them in bulk, that the subsidy on branded olive oil was abolished, acting as a deterrent, and that most cooperatives have as their central objective the sale of bulk olive oil in Italy, according to market analysts.