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Greece stays pure on olive oil

olive oil bottles

Government says no to olive oil blending.

Greece is to keep its olive oil 'pure' by continuing a nationwide ban on blending it with cheaper vegetable oils.

The Greek government fears that blending its olive oil could spoil one of the country's signature products that are enjoyed by thousands of visitors every year.

Greece says has no plans to lift laws banning the mixing of olive oil with other cheaper oils in a clear rejection of a much-touted proposal in a recent economic report.

The report, commissioned from the Paris-based Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). recommended that the sale of blended olive oil with cheap vegetable oils be allowed as part of an effort to modernise the Greek economy and stimulate trade.

It said the new product could carry a prominent label 'blended olive oil' and push up sales of olive oil both in Greece and in other countries.

Greece is the third largest producer of olives and olive oil products after Spain and Italy with more than 430,000 tons of olive oil produced every year.

More than 70% of Greek olive oil is premium quality first pressing olive oil that commands the highest prices and the country is noted for the high quality of its olive oil.

Greeks also use more olive oil per head than anyone else at a huge 18 litres per head each year, buying more than 60% of the domestic production of an annual 300,000.

But poor export branding means most of the Greek surplus — much of it top-grade extra virgin oil — is pumped into container trucks and sold cheaply in bulk to Italian merchants who rebottle it and brand it as their own.

They may also mix the top quality Greek olive oil with lower quality oil and set it as 'olive oil light' or in other marketing ploys.

But Greek Deputy Development Minister Thanasis Skordas has ruled out any relaxation in the law. He told Greek MPs: "I would like to make clear in the most explicit and absolute way that the government does not intend to legislate, under any circumstances, the mixing of olive oil with other types of oil."

"Those who think they can get away with mixing different types of oil, they may as well forget about it," he added.

But the Greek government looks likely to adopt another OECD recommendation that olive oil should be sold in larger containers. The minister said that proposals to sell of olive oil in packages of more than five litres was "worth considering."

Greek is noted for its high quality olive oil with premium quality olive oil always having the cold pressed extra virgin label. Top quality olive oil has a low acidity level of not more than 1% and a very smooth taste.

Greece has no intention of losing its status as producer of the world's best quality olive oil.

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