Greeks love their olive trees and oil. A lot. According to Homer, the Greeks would build their homes around the olive tree, while archaeological finds from the Minoan civilization prove that the Cretan economy was based on olive oil. But it is the discovery of petrified olive leaves in Santorini, of an estimated 50.000 to 60.000 years of age that proves the enduring relationship between the Greeks and their “blessed fruit”.
Some 60% of Greece’s arable land is taken up by olive trees. There are about 132mn trees growing in Greece, a country of not quite 11million people! Greece is the world’s top producer of black olives and has more varieties of olives than any other country. It is the world’s third producer of olives, with an annual production of 350,000 tons of olive oil, of which 82% is extra-virgin.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a superfood. It is the liquid gold that Hippocrates considered one of nature’s best “iama” and the basis of Greek Gastronomy. Its health benefits are continuously certified by scientific research and practice.
About 65% of Greece’s olive oil comes from the Peloponnese, while the rest is produced mainly in Crete, the Aegean and the Ionian Islands. The most prized Greek olive variety for the production of olive oil is the Koroneiki variety, originating from the area of Korone in Messenia, Peloponnese. This variety grows well on mountain slopes and produces very small fruit, and the high ratio of skin to flesh gives the oil its coveted aromatic qualities. And the rules of producing quality olive oil are fully respected and applied.
An Artful Marketing of Greek Olive Oil
In the last decade, a new generation of producers and entrepreneurs, who have spotted the weaknesses of widespread erroneous cultivation and production practices, badproduct placement and lack of systematic strategy to promote olive oil exports, have decided to take action. Despite the economic crisis and the occurrence of factors beyond control (such as the drought of 2012 and 2013 that caused a significant decrease in production), small sized but dynamic companies are now investing time, effort, resources and creative thinking into making the best usage of their product both in terms of certifying its quality, but also in reinforcing its aesthetic appeal. More specifically, a younger generation of Greek visionaries is currently writing a new success story aiming both at producing an excellent product that they wish to share with the rest of the world but also to associate their brands with creativity and innovation. In this respect, slowly but surely and thanks to the great efforts of these passionate people to overcome numerous obstacles, Greek olive oil is at last getting the recognition it deserves, as a premium product beyond the country’s borders.
So the “Art of Greek Olive Oil” is gaining a lot of ground internationally, with remarkable reactions from consumers and businesses, but also with an array of awards won in international competitions for the quality of their products and the sophistication of their packaging. Below are a few examples on how the production and packaging of Greek Olive Oil are becoming an art:
LADOLEA is an unfiltered extra virgin olive oil offered in a reusable handmade ceramic pot that prevents light penetration, thus maintaining its contents to its purest form, aroma and taste. The design of Ladolea’s bottle was inspired by the rich history of the Corinthian region in Greece and the ancient Corinthian pot, called “Aryballos”. The products won 2 global awards in olive oil competitions in 2014 as well as 3 global awards in packaging design competitions.
BIENNA OLIVE OIL. The inspiration to design the packaging came from the friendship between the producers and their relationship with their motherland. More specifically, sixty-five olive producers from Viannos decided to form their own cooperative and create an olive oil brand. Lazy Snail designed a black bottle that features a tree, with the names of all producers as its leaves, representing this sense of unity and devotion to creating a unique and authentic product. The project was awarded the prestigious Red Dot Communication Design Award in 2015.
39/22 MONOVARIETAL GREEK OLIVE OILS. 39/22 is a young company that exemplifies the evident talent for producing exceptional foods in Greece. The female figures that adorn the 39/22 range of single varietal olive oils were chosen in order to emphasize the timeless character of the traditional Greek olive varieties that have been an integral part of Greece for thousands of years. The design of each figure derives from ancient Cycladic, Archaic and Minoan female statuaries. The product won NYIOOC’s Gold Award and a Red Dot Award for Communication Design in 2015.
KORONAKI, a small Greek company that aims to offer customers both in Greece and abroad excellent quality virgin olive oil and high-value traditional Greek products, chose Thomas Kiourtsis to create a clean and sharp identity, along with a new packaging for the product. The designer’s goal was to delineate the simplicity and purity of olive oil along with the range and complexity of its use in Mediterranean cuisine. Balancing between timber and stone, the end product is a natural, timeless and beautiful combination of materials.
KOPOS. The packaging and branding for “Kopos” olive oil, a high quality product by the Corfu located Andriotis company which has been specializing in the trade and processing of olive oil, for over 50 years, carefully selecting olives from locations around Greece, was elaborated by Chris Trivizas. The name of the brand reflects the hard work that lies behind its production and processing (“Kopos” in Greek means “effort” and “hard work”). In order to improve the crop quality, the olive trees are pruned when necessary. The branches are collected and once they have been selected and processed they become caps for the olive oil bottles.
DOGMA OLIVE OIL Exclusively sourced from the Koroneiki variety of olives (the so called ‘queen of olives’), and cultivated in the orchards of a family business in the area of Kalamata in the Peloponnese, for more than 3 generations, this premium quality olive oil is known for its fresh fruity aroma and strong flavour. Ioannis Fetanis designed the packaging and branding of this eloquent bottle of Grecian olive oil by transcribing it with a unique letter shaped like a drop of olive oil. The bottle is sealed with oak wood engraved with the Dogma logo, ultimately bagged in burlap.
FIVE OLIVE OIL. In this project, Designers United provided the brand identity and packaging design for a new, premium quality series of Greek extra virgin olive oil. It’s an organic gourmet product of high quality, obtained directly from handpicked, sustainably grown and organic olives, with a spicy, intact flavour and superb colour. The ‘5’ stands for quintessence in olive oil. The Five Olive Oil packaging has won five international awards: Pentaward, Red Dot Design Award, Dieline Packaging Award, European Design Award and the New York International Olive Oil Competition.
AGROVIM PREMIUM OLIVE OIL The concept behind this design was to create a visual differentiation for a premium quality olive oil, by deliberately – and in every way possible – moving away from traditional vessels and symbols of olive oil quality or clichés of provenance. The pack design targets the cultivated mind of an international food connoisseur who has the spirit of an aesthete: on a metallic can which implies function and culinary power, a realistic-looking drop of oil, comes almost as an afterthought, in order to keep the product safely grounded to the food section of every selling point. If there ever was a slogan attached to it, it would read ‘simply oil’.
THE SECRET KEEPERS The Secret Keepers products are minimally designed with references to mysticism symbols and forms, for a brand specializing in the production, standardization and trade of exquisite farm products. Founded by a group of young producers in Chalkidiki, it addressed a global audience offering local virgin olive oil, green olives and different varieties of honey. The production stages follow a long and secret tradition, and the producers regard themselves as its keepers, creating with respect towards nature and with emphasis on high aesthetics.
ANTHIA This packaging series was designed for Anthia, a company that produces premium quality Greek agricultural products, such as extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and olive paste. The packaging logo combines the shapes of a drop and the letter ‘A’ and is rather big in order to create a dynamic perspective, and the typography is kept inside the drop. The ‘Organic’ and ‘Protected Designation of Origin’ bottles are screen-printed, while all the others use a black label and a solid colour for each pack.
OH MY GOLD! The container selection and typographic treatment of this packaging design transforms high quality, traditional products – such as olive oil, honey and marmalade – into edible gold. The name of the series is a playful neologism that arouses excitement, wonder and admiration. G Design Studio was honoured as the Agency of the Year for 2013 at the Greek Graphic Design and Illustration Awards.
MITERRA OLIVE OIL. Sophia Georgopoulou designed a logo that expresses the values, history and culture of Greece for a company that addresses international consumers, offering high-quality goods from local producers across the country. Inspired by the well-known symbol of the Phaestos Disk and its signs, the logo is strong, sentimental, austere yet easily recognizable as Greek. The unique-shaped bottle brings to mind the shape of an olive and highlights the premium identity of the product and the philosophy of the brand.
NOTIO PREMIUM. The main idea behind the packaging design of the Notio Premium Greek extra virgin olive oil was to make clear that it was produced by a company proud of its Greek and – more generally – southern European roots. In the European South, people “see things slightly differently”. Similarly, the letters that form the brand name on the bottle and the overall identity of the brand, on a first look may appear disorderly, as there is no apparent alignment. Each bottle is individually numbered, with its unique number written by hand on the top of the safety strip that secures the cap. Notio Premium Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil won a merit at the 2014 Greek Design & Illustration Awards (EVGE) in the Olive Oil Packaging category.
GAEA, a company founded in 1995 using a name that in Greek Mythology referred to “Mother Earth” -a symbol of fertility and the goodness of the earth- has an international presence with distinctive elegantly-packaged wholesome foods and fine ingredients. Its philosophy is to unite a deep appreciation of nature while experiencing the best products that Greek nature has to offer, aspiring to become ambassadors not of top-quality olive oil products but of a better, healthier more fulfilling way of eating—and living. The company has won an array of awards and international distinctions, among which the 2015 Gold Award at the New York International Olive Oil Competition for GAEA Fresh and the Silver Medal at the Olive Japan, international extra virgin olive oil competition, for GAEA Kalamata DOP Extra Virgin Olive Oil.