The Agricultural Cooperative Zakros was founded in 1936 under the name Credit Cooperative Zakros. It is active as both a mill and a credit cooperative, offering loans to members in conjunction with the Agricultural Bank of Greece (ATE) to meet growing needs. It is involved in the marketing of fertilisers, agricultural supplies, pesticides and animal feed. Moreover, the cooperative collects deposits on behalf ATE and is connected to the online banking system with a mind to expanding the cooperation in the future.

The first cooperative mill was built in 1949 and worked with two presses. The production line was modernised in 1978, when two centrifugal units were installed. In 1982 it was expanded further with the installation of two new ALFA LAVAL units and oil tanks with a total capacity of 500 tons for common oil producers to use for storage and sales.

The cooperative was modernised further in 1991 when the decanters were replaced by two PIERALISI units that remained in operation until 2003. 230- and 360-ton stainless steel tanks were installed in 1994 and 1998 respectively. In 2003 the plant underwent radical modernisation with the construction of a new mill building, additional 400-ton tanks and modern standardisation. Two new ALFA LAVAL centrifugal units with a total crushing capacity of 11,000 kilos of olives per hour were installed. The joint milling and marketing of the oil was successfully implemented.     

Today, the cooperative has about 500 active members and producers, and is run by five board members. It employs three permanent staff, two in the standardisation of olive oil and about 20 seasonal workers in production.

PRODUCTION

The area of Zakros covers about 10,000 acres and cultivates about 260,000 olive trees. Olives have been in the region since the Minoan period. The geography of the area is ideal for growing olives and allows the production of premium quality oil. 200-250 metres above sea level, it is isolated from the surrounding areas by mountains in a xeric microclimate with warm, dry summers. The soil is mostly limestone. The area is fortunate to have invaluable resources to irrigate the olive trees with high-quality water.

The olives grown are exclusively of the koroneiki variety, which are perfectly adapted to the specific local conditions. An average of 850,000 kilograms (about 4 million pounds) of olives is used to produce premium quality extra virgin olive oil with very low acidity levels of 0.17 – 0.30 %.