people sitting at tables listening to speakers in a conference room

At a conference at the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania (MAICh) on June 12, ELIADA project partners reported on the utilization and promotion of the genetic material of Greek olive varieties. These scientists and innovators emphasized that the protection of this material is more imperative than ever as we face the effects of climate change.  

Several people listening to a presentation, including a screen with images, in the conference center at MAICh

On December 16-17, 2021, inventors and scientists introduced 19 innovations designed to help solve common problems in the Greek olive, olive oil, and livestock sectors. Dozens of participants joined presenters online or at the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute in Chania (MAICh) for this LIVINGAGRO event, with several learning more in one-on-one meetings.

Olive oil producers discussing their innovations outside their mill

Stakeholders in the Greek olive and livestock sectors who are facing challenges are invited to a free B2B event to connect with innovators offering solutions to common problems. Online and face-to-face presentations and 1-on-1 meetings will take place in Chania, Crete on December 16-17 as part of the LIVINGAGRO project funded by the ENI CBC Med Programme.

Eftychis Androulakis sorting olives amidst olive mill machinery

(Photo essay) On a cloudy November day, we headed west of Chania, Crete to explore olive-avocado intercropping and witness the production of olive oil in a mill full of new inventions. Setting out to film a short video about innovative practices and machinery, we encountered the sights, sounds, colors, aromas, and flavors of the Greek olive oil world.

Prokopios Magiatis and Eleni Melliou presenting their Olive Predictor at the Olive Challenge Demo Day

Last month in Athens, the Olive Challenge Demo Day unveiled fifteen cutting edge creations in a unique Greek olive oil and olive sector contest focused on innovation. Top honors went to the Olive Predictor, a miniature olive mill and tester that let olive oil producers determine the healthy phenolic content and oil yield of their olives before the harvest.

Hand pouring a spoonful of OLEO olive oil from a medicine bottle

Two Greek entrepreneurs have presented a new product: very healthy organic Greek extra virgin olive oil in a 150 ml container that looks like a medicine bottle. This is no coincidence: OLEO is meant to be taken as a nutritional supplement in measured doses of 5 grams per day for its health benefits, according to the OLEO team. So one bottle lasts a month. 

Dr. Prokopios Magiatis & Dr. Eleni Melliou with Olea Health capsules

Made with Greek olive oil, the new Olea Health olive oil softgel capsule, “the densest polyphenol capsule in the world” according to its website, entered the Greek market in September. Its advocates believe this low-calorie product can offer a high concentration of the olive oil polyphenols that scientific studies suggest have numerous health benefits.

Part of an art installation by Elena Stavropoulou

To create a unique, inspiring atmosphere in Delphi where judges from 11 countries evaluated 359 olive oils for the Athena International Olive Oil Competition, competition chairman Constantine Stergides hired architect Elena Stavropoulou to make a striking art installation. Her installation memorialized the Greek olive oil production tradition of the past.

children standing in a line across from an olive grove, facing a teacher

Many Greek olive oil companies welcome schoolchildren to their mills, bottling plants, and tasting rooms to learn about olive oil production, export, history, taste, uses, and health benefits. Last year, Terra Creta went farther, hiring a teacher to develop a specialized experiential learning program for kindergarten and elementary school students in Crete.

Covers of books for tourist children about olive oil

Greek innovations in the olive oil realm range from an updating of ancient methods and arts to groundbreaking new science, from educational outreach to environmentalist philanthropy.

In Crete, researchers at the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania are working on a new method to identify olive varieties that should lead to contributions to an international database and a new cell phone app.

At a more basic level, Biolea crushes whole bitter oranges and lemons under stone mill wheels with organic olives to make artisanal cold pressed olive oil with amazing citrus flavors. The Association of Cretan Olive Municipalities reaches out to children and their parents with free children’s books and theatrical projects that teach about the health benefits and tasty appeal of olive oil.

In Athens, potters handcraft updated versions of ancient vessels to hold Ladolea’s extra virgin olive oil. 2yolk graphic designers inspired by ancient goddess statues created the design for Great Stories’ 39/42 olive oil containers.

For every bottle of olive oil evo3 sells, money is donated to the Eden Reforestation NGO to plant a tree in a deforested area. During the past two years, trees on public land in the Athens suburb of Glyfada were harvested by volunteers to make free olive oil for the needy.

At the University of Athens, Dr. Prokopios Magiatis and Dr. Eleni Melliou invented a miniature hand-held “laboratory” to test the amount of certain healthy phenolic compounds in olive oil. Greece may have seen better days, but its citizens’ bright ideas and persistent labor continue to offer striking surprises that suggest there’s hope for its future. Click on the links for details.

Greek Innovations