The audience for a seminar at the Chania Chamber of Commerce in Crete

A recent event hosted by the Chania Chamber of Commerce and Industry on "International Olive Oil Competitions: The Road to Distinction" revealed that the olive oil of the prefecture of Chania continues its upward course, both qualitatively and quantitatively. Drawing more than 65 participants, the event sparked the interest of many olive oil producers.

The seminar was noteworthy for addressing the qualities judges are looking for when deciding whether an olive oil deserves an award. In fact, theory was combined with practice, since the participants had the rare opportunity to try ten award-winning foreign olive oils so they could taste the organoleptic characteristics that lead to distinction and judge for themselves the level of competition their own products face.

The presentation was made by the organizers of the Athena International Olive Oil Competition (IOOC) which takes place in a different olive-growing region in Greece every March. This year the contest was held in Messinia, and it will take place in Delphi on March 19-21, 2018. Hundreds of producers from all the major olive oil producing countries of the world participate in the Athena IOOC, and the jury consists of internationally recognized Greek and foreign judges. 

According to the president of the Chania Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Yannis Margaronis, "90% of the exports from the Prefecture of Chania are in the agri-food sector, and of course our number one product is olive oil. From 2010 to 2016, exports increased 270%. From 5,000 tons, they grew to 15,000 tons." Even so, as olive oil producer Eftychis Androulakis, who presented the speakers to the public, said, "however good the oil it produces, our country needs awards in order to stimulate demand and create goodwill for its products."

In her presentation, Maria Katsouli, director of the Athena competition, referred to the good practices that can lead to awards and then led participants in the tasting of the foreign olive oils, analyzing their flavors and emphasizing the points that are considered particularly positive abroad. The group tasted olive oil from Italy, Spain, Portugal, Tunisia, and Israel, including both oil from olive varieties little known in Greece, and two samples of Koroneiki olive oil from Spain and Israel whose high quality was considered impressive.

The event ended with a reception featuring hors d'oeuvres starring olive oil and accompanied by selected wines from Greek vineyards.

For more information about this and the possibility of similar events in other parts of Greece, contact Maria Marougka at 210 766 0560 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Thanks to Maria for the photos and the press release (in Greek) from which this article was adapted. For more about the Athena IOOC, see Athena International Olive Oil Competition: “Greece IS olive oil.”

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