Olive Sector of Agrinio Work Program
At the “Union of Agrinio” Cooperative we work daily under a long-term operational plan that includes the developments in the agricultural sector, not only at a national level but also internationally. Our main goal all these years still remains the effective and comprehensive support and guidance to our producers on every issue that concerns them.
Especially in regard to our famous olive products such as “Konsservoliá” or the table olives of Kalamata variety, the effort engaged focuses mainly on the strengthening of their qualitative and quantitative indicators, the upgrading of their quality and the improvement of their competitive market position. These results are strongly related to the support provided by EU funding through the programs regarding Operators’ Organizations in the Olive Sector under Reg. [EC] 867/08.
Introductory note by the President
The only way to respond to these demanding conditions during this complex and transitional period that we are going through is the redefinition of goals and objectives and the use of our real potentials. We may need to rethink some things from the start and begin to create, to produce what we can. And we, the farmers, can do much!
At the Agricultural Cooperative “Union of Agrinio” we work every day towards the above direction and on the basis of a long-term operational plan that recognizes developments in the agricultural sector, not only nationally but also internationally. Our main goal all these years still remains the effective and comprehensive support and guidance to our producers on every issue that concerns them.
Especially in regard to our famous olive products such as “Konsservoliá” or the table olives of Kalamata variety, the effort engaged focuses mainly on the strengthening of their qualitative and quantitative indicators, the upgrading of their quality and the improvement of their competitive market position. These results are strongly related to the support and funding provided by the European Union.
After our recognition as Operators’ Organization in the Olive Sector under Regulation (EC) 867/08 and our participation in this Work Programs over the last six years (3-year periods: 2009-2012 & 2012-15) we gained valuable experience, managed to systematize our services and through the relevant actions we ensured measurable benefits for our producers, our products and the local community and economy.
We are proud that by being present for almost a century in the region and by following our philosophy of "united we stand", we have succeeded to emerge as the most important pillar of the local rural economy.
The struggle to turn the crisis into an opportunity still goes on.
President of the Union of Agrinio
10 targeted and measurable actions to create added value to the quality of the Union’s olive products
Progress in implementing the Triennial Work Program of the Operators’ Organization in the Olive sector of the Agricultural Cooperative of Agrinio under Reg. [EC] 867/08 as amended and in force in accordance with the Commission’s Implementing Regulation [EU] 1220/2011
The Agricultural Cooperative “Union of Agrinio" successfully implemented the Work Program approved under Reg. (EC) 867/08 as amended by Reg. (EC) 1220/2011 the years 2012-2015.
The Agricultural Cooperative (A.C.) has implemented measures to improve product quality with an emphasis on certification and education of olive producers in practices related to integrated management and aim at protecting the environment and preserve the landscape which constitutes a fundamental principle of the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
The A.C. of Agrinio has submitted the foreseen study on 15/02/2012 and was recognized as an Operators’ Organization under M.D. (Ministerial Decision) 1185/30264/ 14-03-12 while under M.D. 1474/40225 / 30-03-12 the Work Program that was simultaneously submitted, was approved as well, including a total budget of 1,819,225 €.
1. Development and implementation of integrated management system
BUDGET: 1,100,000 €
The A.C. Union of Agrinio has always given great attention at the production of high quality table olives. Therefore, in years 2012-2015, the Union continued the successful implementation of integrated management system (IMS) that started within the Work Program (W.P.) of the previous three years (2009-2012), numbering 1200 certified olive producers cultivating 23,188 acres.
Both young and old producers were trained and certified in all subjects related to the national standards AGRO 2.1 & 2.2 / 3. In addition, during the corresponding training, great emphasis was given on the benefits of olive trees’ collective management, on collective olives’ harvesting, on extraction, storage and marketing of olive products.
The intensive training of the members of the integrated A.C. management team, ensured the producers’ compliance with the codes of good agricultural practice and cross-compliance under the "greening" of the new CAP.
The effectiveness of the implementation of the integrated management system by the producers is impressive. Under the right guidance and the producers’ training, the use of fertilizers was reduced 10% and the PPP residues discovery rate was zero, which confirms the excellent quality of table olives of A.C. and enhances the confidence of the consumers seeking quality and safety in comestibles.
2. Supply of plastic pallets - bins
BUDGET: 3,508 €
The quality of the product largely depends on the way that the fruit is transported and stored.
Due to this activity, the A.C. has purchased plastic crates for producers participating in the integrated management plan in order to transport the olives to the processing plant under optimum conditions, without affecting quality. Because of the fact that the bins allow better ventilation of the fruits, high temperatures that can lead the olives to a significant deterioration due to increased acidity are in this way absolutely avoided.
Therefore, using the bins has prevented the squeezing of the fruit and the degradation of its quality while the time needed between the olives’ harvesting and the final product’s standardization is now lessened.
Reducing the stress applied to the olives during transport has led to a sharp increase of the final product’s quality characteristics, due to the absence of external defects and the avoidance of the fruit’s soft flesh phenomenon.
3. Installation of Biological Equipment Unit
BUDGET: 82,600 €
For a processing and olive packaging entity like the Agricultural Cooperation of Agrinio, the production of quality good with the less possible environmental impact is a key priority, especially when it comes to liquid waste.
Because of the nature of the olive’s processing, during almost all the stages of the production process, large volumes of liquid waste are generated contaminated with saline compounds and lipogenic substances. This goes without saying in A.C. of Agrinio, where the annual processing capacity is around 1,500-2,500 tons of olives.
The volume of liquid waste produced during the past years had not been processed. Implementing this activity the A.C. of Agrinio was able to manifest its environmentally friendly policy. Nowadays, most of these wastes are transferred to a large concrete tank and thence filtered in 3 large tanks. Then, almost colorless and odorless the effluents are deposited in a 5-acres reed bed.
Installing a Biological Equipment Unit the A.C. helped us manage and overcome the problems and reduce the environmental impact of the factory unit.
4. Semi-automated pallet wrapping machine
BUDGET: 7,175 €
Aiming at optimizing product quality not only at the stage when the product leaves the production site but also at the final stage of its selection for consumption the A.C. of Agrinio purchased one (1) semi-automatic pallet wrapping machine with polyethylene plastic film.
The later ensures firmness and intact transfer of goods to the final commercial recipient minimizing any chances of loss or deterioration of the package.
5. Τanks’ supply
BUDGET: 23,400 €
To preserve the high quality of the table olives, the A.C. of Agrinio purchased new stainless steel tanks to replace the older ones. These are used not only to store the olives but also to process them since the preparation of soda solution for olives’ debittering and dense brine solution for their fermentation takes place in these tanks.
In this way, the A.C. of Agrinio using such tanks has managed to improve the quality of the final product.
6. Filling machine system and accessories
BUDGET: 109,192 €
The Agricultural Cooperative of Agrinio under the three-year work program has installed a system of an automatically filling machine of containers of 2 to 13 liters and accessories so as to guarantee the safety of the olives’ packaging and of course the consumer’s protection.
More specifically, the A.C. of Agrinio is supplied with a double power lift, an automatic olive filler - weighing machine and a washing- drying tunnel for the containers. Practically, this packaging has replaced part of the large plastic containers used for the transportation and marketing of olive products, adding today more value to the final product.
7. Supply of coring - cutting olive machine and accessories
BUDGET: 69,250 €
The Agricultural Cooperative of Agrinio in order to upgrade the value and differentiate the final product in terms of quality and packaging, has already purchased and installed coring-cutting olive machine and accessories. In this way, we managed to offer to the consumers a product of high quality that is at the same time quite easy to use, as the kernel of the olive has been removed and all the above actually enhance the positive image of the product regarding the consumers. Moreover, this activity has supported the overall effort to strengthen the position of Greek products in the domestic and international market.
8. Develop and implement internal and external traceability system
BUDGET: 368,500 €
The A.C. of Agrinio wants to preserve the quality of the table olives produced and therefore implements a Traceability System at the producer level, as well as at the packaging stage. In this way, all the producers participating in the integrated management system team of A.C. of Agrinio (1,200 producers) are actually involved in the traceability team observing entries in a special notebook.
Meanwhile, the packaging was upgraded and the integrated electronic iKnow traceability system was updated bearing the following characteristics:
- improved user interface
- further automation
- automated reports via email
- statistical analysis
- integration of ISO 9001: 2008 process
The development and implementation of internal and external traceability system by the A.C. of Agrinio led to the improvement of reliability regarding the product’s hygiene and safety communication at a customer - supplier level. At the same time, the positive response of the consumers was made evident through an increase of the sales of the Union’s products.
9. Development and implementation of quality management and food safety systems at the packaging plant of the A.C. of Agrinio
BUDGET: 39,600 €
The A.C. of Agrinio pursues to ensure the quality and safety of table olives. Therefore, it is still implementing the Quality Management Systems according to the ISO 9001: 2008 standard and the Food Safety Management in accordance with the ISO 22000: 2005 standard at the packaging facilities in Spolaita.
The certification of the above systems was conducted during the three years of the program. Consequently, the Union is now able to demonstrate the safety and quality of its table olives, as well as the proper functioning of its enterprise, thus acquiring a strong competitive advantage in the market.
At the same time, the Union proceeded to the implementation of systems that meet the requirements of the International Food Standard (IFS) and British Retail Consortium (BRC) standards at its packaging plant. Therefore, in case of a request from a client abroad regarding certification, it is able to respond immediately and it can generally better support the product in the new market.
All the above contributed to the strengthening of the company’s credibility in the market regarding food hygiene and safety, whereas the increasing sales not only domestically but also internationally are for sure a fact that rewards our activities.
10. The A.C. of Agrinio Communication Plan
BUDGET: 16,000 €
The A.C. of Agrinio made good use of the online resources of the modern era (facebook, twitter, etc.) as well as the traditional forms of communication, so that its new program and the results may be widely disseminated to the interested parties. In this way, the A.C. aspires that through effective communication with the consumers, its products will enjoy the widest possible promotion.
In more detail, we created a newsletter containing reports on the A.C.’s activities and we held an informative meeting where journalists, producers and other actors of the agri-food sector had the opportunity to get detailed information on program’s results, meet each other and discuss on the values and traditions of our region.