Special feature: Greece

Interview with Mr Fotis Sousalis, General Manager, Terra Creta

March, 2018

Tell us a little bit about the essence of Crete and the significance of the olive tree throughout history? What are the conditions that favor Cretan olive oil being such high quality?

Mr Fotis Sousalis: The presence of the olive tree has played a key role on the island’s economic stability for thousands of years. Since Minoan times (2000 BC) the production of olive oil gave wealth to kings and a mean to survive to the poor people. Thus, the olive tree has so much been connected to everybody’s life on the island that a Cretan cannot imagine himself disconnected from the olive tree or olive oil. The Cretans are by far the biggest consumers of olive oil on the planet and this fact has played a key role to the famous longevity of the Cretan Diet. Creta has an ideal climate for the olive tree to grow with glorious sunshine throughout the year and mild temperatures. However, the most important factor is the people and the connection they have with the olive tree. Each family owns olive trees that are inherited from their ancestors and they feel obliged to offer them to the next generation at their best.

Terra Creta extra virgin olive oil is recognised by its clients around the world for having impeccable quality standards. One of the features that the company is unique for is traceability. Tell us more about how this system and others contribute to raising the bar high in terms of quality standards?

Mr Fotis Sousalis: Quality and transparency are the cornerstones of Terra Creta. Quality for us means to offer a really tasty and health promoting olive oil, full of antioxidants with the unique characteristics of the region. Transparency comes naturally when you have nothing to hide. We record all traceability information into our system as past of our Quality System so it was just a matter of offering this information to our consumers. Everybody has the right to know where their food comes from.

Do you believe, then, that the 500,000 new ICT Jobs in Greece target is on track to be met?

Mr Nicolaides: I hope so! What I would also like to see is more females in the ICT sector. Currently about 10-12% of the workforce is female. As far as age is concerned, the average age in Europe for an ICT professional is 50. Why? Because it isn’t considered a very interesting or “sexy” job. We want to address this and lure younger people towards the industry. We want to change this wrong perception. Age and gender is very important for us. At the end of the day, in the future, 50% of the jobs, in general, will be ICT related. Therefore, the population and workforce must adapt.

Terra Creta is one of the biggest producers and exporters of olive oil in Crete. Tell us a bit about the extent of production and exports of Cretan olive oil as a percentage of Greek olive oil. Is it safe to say that these numbers for both the island and Terra Creta have been steadily increasing over the last 5 to 10 years?

Mr Fotis Sousalis: Greek olive oil and especially olive oil from Crete has been gradually becoming more and more famous internationally. Crete produces 1/3 of the total Greek production and exports bottled (not bulk) about 50% of the total Greek exports. Terra Creta has grown 83% in the last 3 years having expanded to 42 countries. Our quality and mentality are connecting us with millions of consumers around the world making terra creta brand a perfect ambassador of Greek olive oil.