Carbon Neutral Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Material flow and marketing innovation in the food processing sector.
Gaea’s products intent to access the international quality food market, offering high quality traditional, authentic and innovative Greek specialty food products, with an environment friendly character. Material flow eco-innovation is linked with Gaea’s Extra Virgin Olive Oils, which were the first in the world to be certified as Carbon Neutral, while maintaining their high quality characteristics, featuring only 0,3 – 0,4% acidity. Through the calculation of CO2 emissions-carbon footprint in the life cycle of olives, the company is committed to gradually interfere in all harmful for the environment practices involved in olive oil production – from cultivation to the shelves of the markets, in order to reduce CO2 emissions year per year, while at the same time producing a high quality extra virgin olive oil. Marketing innovation refers to the placement of the product in a niche market, certified as climate neutral, having zero energy footprint (carbon footprint).
Market demand (niche market): The perception that eco-conscious shoppers are looking for products that do more than simply fulfil their daily needs, by demanding companies to offer environmentally and socially responsible products, acted as a motivation for producing olive oils according to specific environmental rules was.
Cost: competition is in a position to offer products of similar quality characteristics, but with higher environmental impact, at lower prices.
Knowledge: Know-how for the calculation of the olive’s life-cycle carbon footprint was not available in-house; external assistance was provided in the application of scientific and technological tools (based on the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Standard) by the Center for Sustainability (CSE) and Myclimate organization.
Gaea, recognizing the severity of Climate change, has minimized its impact on the climate through offsetting the carbon emissions of its olive oil products in co-operation with the Swiss organization Myclimate. It calculated the amount of carbon emissions produced per kg of olive oil and compensated it by funding protection projects through the myclimate foundation. Moreover, the calculation of the carbon emission throughout the life-cycle of olive oil provided an opportunity for several environmental improvements to be made in the cultivation and transportation of olive oils, the production and bottling, as well as the final distribution to the retail network. The initiative may benefit in the future from relevant R&D efforts in olive waste management, that are currently under way in Greece and other Mediterranean countries, such as the PROSODOL project, funded under Life+.