A blue olive oil tasting glass among olive branches; on the glass are the letters CIOOC and the words Canada International Olive Oil Competition in white, to the right of the competition logo

This year, there is a new way for olive oil producers and companies to attract the attention of Canadian consumers and buyers worldwide: the Canada International Olive Oil Competition (IOOC). As organizer George Kouvelis says, “for those ready to expand globally, Canada may be an ideal country in which to start. The word ‘Canada’ is a global trademark.”

The Canada IOOC will also help shoppers learn about high quality extra virgin olive oils (EVOOs). As Kouvelis points out, “if an olive oil producer or olive oil company wins a Canadian award in 2021, their product will be famous around the world.” Competition results will be published in newspapers and online and promoted via news releases and media announcements.

Ranked #2 in the U.S. News & World Report Best Countries ranking for 2020, #3 in the same publication’s Open for Business rankings, and #6 on the last Forbes Best Countries for Business list, Canada is a nation olive oil companies should keep in mind. According to the International Olive Council, imports of olive oil in Canada have increased substantially since 2005, with the greatest interest in virgin olive oils.

"More Canadian consumers than ever before are looking to purchase top quality extra virgin olive oils,” confirms Canada IOOC judge Karen Rapp of Toronto, Canada. She adds, “competitions like the CIOOC help bring consumer awareness and industry recognition to the oils that are entered and expand the Canadian market to more international producers." The first professional olive oil taster in Canada to be certified by the prestigious National Association of Olive Oil Tasters (ONAOO) in Imperia, Italy, Rapp has been a judge in various international olive oil competitions and recently completed her Masters in Monocultivar Olive Oils, studying with the world-famous expert Gino Celletti.

A blue olive oil tasting glass with the competition name and logo, on red maple leaves

Another Canada IOOC judge from Toronto who is certified by ONAOO, Fil Bucchino, adds another useful point: “as more and more olive oil producers focus on quality, and production expands to new regions and countries, international competitions have provided an excellent awareness vehicle for producers and consumers alike. As a Canadian and an olive oil taster, it is an honor to continue to support this precious gift of nature alongside the CIOOC.” A man of many talents, from olive oil education and international judging to writing and filmmaking, Bucchino is “Obsessed with Olive Oil”—as he titled his award-winning documentary. He is one of the few tasters outside Italy to be registered in the Italian National Directory of Virgin and Extra Virgin Olive Oil Experts.

With judges from nine different countries, the Canada IOOC’s jury brings together an impressive group of well-qualified individuals. A third example is Ehud Soriano of Kibbutz Magal, Israel, a consultant, educator, international olive oil competition judge, and expert certified by the University of Jaén. Having established the Israeli olive oil tasting panel and the Ministry of Health tasting panel as well as managing the Israeli national olive oil competition, Soriano is “part of the revolution of olive oil quality in Israel, leading many courses about tasting, cultivating, producing and marketing olive oil” (as the CIOOC site puts it), both at home and abroad.

The Canada IOOC’s jury also includes
•    Birsen Pehlivan, MSc, of Manisa, Turkey
•    Dr. Ing. Mariem Gharsallaoui of the Olive Tree Institute in Sfax, Tunisia
•    International Olive Council (IOC) advisory committee member and IOC-recognized taster Ruba Daghmish of Amman, Jordan
•    international competition judge, master miller, quality adviser, and IOC accredited panel member Javier Sànchez Pedròs of Teruel, Spain
•    professional olive oil taster, educator, writer, podcaster, and accredited panel leader Marco Antonucci of Lovere, Italy
•    accredited taster Nicolas Koutsoukos, founder of the Kalamata Olive Oil School in Greece
•    olive oil producer, educator, and international judge Takis Dimitrakopoulos of Gargaliani, Greece
•    internationally recognized olive oil sommelier and master miller Claudio Vignoli of Miami, USA, an International Olive Council Accredited Level 1 Technical Taster and partner of OLEA, the International School of Sensory Analysis and Food Culture in Italy

The Canada IOOC welcomes the participation of any standardized high quality extra virgin olive oil in the world that is legally sold in retail stores, as long as it was made from olives harvested in the 2020-21 crop year and is part of a batch of at least 500 kilograms. Graphic designers will be the judges for a packaging competition. In a blind organoleptic tasting, the expert olive oil quality judges will use an evaluation form based on that of the International Olive Council’s Mario Solinas Competition.

Canada IOOC registration is open until April 30, with samples due in Montreal by 5:00 p.m. on May 10. More information and the entry form are available here.

The Canada International Olive Oil Competition is a major sponsor of greekliquidgold.com. Thanks to the competition organizers for the photos used with this article.

All businesses, organizations, and competitions involved with Greek olive oil, the Mediterranean diet, and/or agrotourism or food tourism in Greece, as well as others interested in supporting Greeks working in these sectors, are invited to consider the advertising and sponsorship opportunities on the Greek Liquid Gold: Authentic Extra Virgin Olive Oil website. The only wide-ranging English-language site featuring news and information from the Greek olive oil world, it has helped companies reach consumers in almost all the countries on earth.

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