Exports from the Greek island of Crete nearly doubled to €295 million

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Exports of Cretan products nearly doubled in the first half of the year on an annual basis, climbing from 152 million euros in H1 of 2014 to 295 million in January-June 2015, according to the Exporters’ Association of Crete.

Olive oil accounted for 57 percent of the value of Cretan products heading abroad, the association said.

Association of Cretan Olive Municipalitiessees (SEDIK) hope in Cretan exporters’ achievements in the face of the difficulties of the economic crisis in Greece but cautions that efforts by businesses are not enough. “Governmental measures to facilitate exports and a definitive lifting of capital controls” are also required. SEDIK urges an increase in the export of bottled olive oil so added value can come to Crete rather than being lost to the island through bulk sales.

According to Alkiviadis Kalabokis, president of the Exporters’ Association of Crete about half of exported Cretan olive oil was sold in bulk to Italy (45 percent) and Spain (5 percent) last year, while the rest was sold bottled. This is a vast improvement over ten years ago when 95 percent of Cretan olive oil was sold in bulk to Italy.

According to Kalabokis, the Greek economic crisis has shown that most Greeks work hard, especially in the private sector, seeing what improvements are needed and promptly making the appropriate changes. Both established Cretan companies and small new ones have made a lot of progress not only in quality, but also in certifying their olive oil and offering a variety of high-quality products in good packaging.

Composed of about 170 companies, the Exporters’ Association of Crete has helped make it the first region in Greece to “focus on regional marketing,” to introduce Cretan olive oil and Cretan producers to new markets. Cretan companies have a ready-made marketing story to tell, based on what Kalabokis describes as “our own history, our own tradition, our own traditional diet,” which many view as the basis of the famous Mediterranean diet.

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