The special geo-climatic conditions of Crete and, in particular, the sun-drenched days of summer and autumn, along with the proper application of local research, not to mention the love of the Cretans for the olive tree and its oil, have all culminated in a spectacular improvement in the level of quality!

Today, over 95% of the olive oil produced in Crete belongs to the highest category of quality labeled as "Extra Virgin".


Quality plays a decisive role in the taste and the health benefits of olive oil. This is why the consumer must be able to distinguish between the various types of quality and make his choice accordingly.


Olive oil as it is produced on Crete today has excellent quality characteristics. Its acidity is extremely low and its organoleptic characteristics (flavour, aroma) are excellent. Thus a quite large percentage of Cretan olive oil in the order of 85-95%, depending on annual conditions, is placed in the highest quality category of EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL (Fig. 1). The corresponding figures for olive oils from other olive oil producing countries is today considerably lower.

Its excellent organoleptic characteristics, in other words the unparalleled flavour and exceptional aroma of Cretan olive oil, is certainly due to the high levels of sunshine and the dry climate which prevails in most areas of the island, particularly during the autumn and winter period when the oil is formed in the fruit.

Nonetheless, achievement of the top quality of Cretan olive oil is also contributed to and assisted by the diligent cultivation of producers and effective combating of the olive fly in conjunction with proper and rapid harvesting.

Shortening the period of time between harvesting and pressing and the high conditions of cleanliness of the olive fruit from the olive plantation to the olive press are also considered to be important technical factors which contribute decisively to improving quality.

Shortening the time from harvesting to pressing, which over recent years has reached just 1-2 days, is a Greek success which is due, in addition to mechanizing of harvesting using small olive collection devices, too to the large number of modern high capacity olive presses which exist on Crete which manage to process almost all olives received each day.


The quality of extra virgin olive oil produced on Crete has been officially recognized by international organizations, leading scientists and specialist tasters.

However, practical acknowledgement of the quality lead of Cretan olive oil is demonstrated by the demand for it and its supply to major international, and in particular Italian, processing industries which absorb almost all production each year in order to produce their own higher quality blends.

Moreover, Cretan olive oil has also been awarded a plethora of international prizes and other acknowledgements in official international and global contests.

The extra virgin olive oil with the protected designation of origin SITIA produced by the Union of Agricultural Cooperatives of Sitia has won a considerable number of international awards just some of which are:

  1. 2002. The Mario Solinas 1st Prize in the International Quality Contest held by the International Olive Oil Council for the Intense Fruitiness Section.
  2. 2001. The Mario Solinas 1st Prize in the International Quality Contest held by the International Olive Oil Council for the Intense Fruitiness Section.
  3. 1999. The "Leone d' Oro" Prize in the international SOL'99 contest held in Verona, Italy.
  4. 1977/8. 1st prize for the Virgin harmony category in the international contest Patrimonio Communal Olivarero held in Spain.

The extra virgin olive oil produced by the Pezon Union of Agricultural Cooperatives of Heraklion has also won quite a few prizes and distinctions. Some of these are:

  1. 2003. The gold medal at the International Olive Oil Conference on "Olive Oil: Origin, traceability, evaluation" held in Zurich.
  2. 2003. Acceptance of use of the Pezon Union's olive oil at official meals during the Greek Presidency of the EU.
  3. 2003. Award from the Panhellenic Confederation of Unions of Agricultural Cooperatives in the context of AGROTICA for the extra virgin olive oil "NISOS" produced by the Pezon Union.

The olive oil with the designation of origin Kolymbari produced by the Kolymbari Union of Agricultural Cooperatives was chosen for athlete's diets during the Tokyo Olympic Games. However there are also many other organic and protected designation of origin olive oils which has attained important distinctions.