`Crete Gets its Own Olive Oil Competition - Olive Oil Times

Crete Gets its Own Olive Oil Competition

Mar. 25, 2015
Lisa Radinovsky

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The first Cretan Olive Oil Competition was held in the lab­o­ra­tory of organolep­tic eval­u­a­tion at the Union of Agricultural Cooperatives in Rethymno, Crete, Greece on March 21 – 22, 2015. This com­pe­ti­tion, which suc­ceeded in attract­ing far more par­tic­i­pants than antic­i­pated, sought to pro­mote high-qual­ity Cretan olive oil brands and the spe­cial organolep­tic char­ac­ter­is­tics of the best Cretan olive oils, to improve their posi­tion in the local and global mar­kets, and to upgrade the over­all qual­ity of Cretan oils by devel­op­ing the exper­tise of par­tic­i­pants.

Governor of Crete Stavros Arnaoutakis pre­sented the Golden ELEA Award to Georgios Valirakis of Kardiafood in Rethymno for his Kardiafood Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO), the only oil from Tsounati olives to rank in the top ten at this com­pe­ti­tion. The gov­er­nor pre­sented the Silver ELEA Award to Emmanouil Karpadakis of Terra Creta in Chania for Terra Creta Estate PDO Kolymvari EVOO, from Koroneiki olives (also the source of all the other win­ners’ oil). Terra Creta was also awarded the Bronze ELEA Award for Terra Creta Platinium 0.2 EVOO.

The excel­lence of the rest of the top ten olive oils at the com­pe­ti­tion, all from Koroneiki olives, was also rec­og­nized, as they were ranked in this order: 4. Crete Gold PDO Kolymvari EVOO from Kreta Food Ltd. in Chania; 5. Minoan Elea EVOO from Minoan Elea in Heraklion; 6. Sitia 0.3 EVOO from Nikolaos Ailamanakis in Sitia; 7. Apollonia PDO Kolymvari EVOO from Apollonia Cretan Products in Chania; 8. Vienna EVOO from the Cooperative of Viannos in Heraklion; 9. Kardia EVOO from Kardiafood in Rethymno; 10. Miterra EVOO from Minoan Gaia PC in Heraklion. Some of the com­pe­ti­tion par­tic­i­pants will also com­pete in the New York International Olive Oil Competition next month, along with up to 700 olive oils from 25 coun­tries.

Emmanouil Karpadakis of Terra Creta, Georgios Valirakis of Kardiafood, the governor of Crete, Stavros Arnautakis, and competition coordinator, Eleftheria Germanaki

Sixty-nine stan­dard­ized sam­ples from major Cretan bot­tling com­pa­nies were pro­vided from the 2014 – 15 sea­son. These sam­ples were eval­u­ated by a panel of ten judges who are expe­ri­enced chemists, agri­cul­tur­ists, and chem­i­cal engi­neers from Crete, mem­bers of accred­ited groups who have served as judges in both domes­tic and inter­na­tional olive oil com­pe­ti­tions.

Samples were assessed based on the qual­ity of their organolep­tic char­ac­ter­is­tics, using the same cri­te­ria as the Mario Solinas com­pe­ti­tion orga­nized by the International Olive Council (IOC). The head of the jury was Greece’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive to the IOC, Effie Christopoulou, a chemist and acclaimed panel super­vi­sor and instruc­tor rec­og­nized by the IOC for her exper­tise in chem­i­cal and organolep­tic tests.

The competition’s coor­di­na­tion man­ager, Eleftheria Germanaki, a dis­tin­guished olive oil expert and direc­tor of the lab­o­ra­tory at the Union of Agricultural Cooperatives in Rethymno, empha­sized the impor­tance of pro­duc­ers and bot­tlers expand­ing their knowl­edge in order to fur­ther improve the qual­ity of their final prod­uct, bot­tled and branded olive oil — an improve­ment facil­i­tated by inter­ac­tions between judges and par­tic­i­pants last week­end.

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Crete pro­duces about 100,000 tons of high-qual­ity olive oil of two main vari­eties, Koroneiki, the island’s most com­mon vari­ety, and Tsounati, which is cul­ti­vated at higher alti­tudes in Crete. Most of the olive oils sub­mit­ted to the com­pe­ti­tion were either Koroneiki mono­va­ri­etal or Tsounati mono­va­ri­etal.

Ms. Germanaki and the other orga­niz­ers of the com­pe­ti­tion hope the Cretan Olive Oil Competition will help both Greeks and the rest of the world rec­og­nize the value of the unique qual­i­ties of Cretan olive oil, so that more of this oil will be bot­tled and branded on the island for export, rather than being sold in bulk at a cheaper price and mixed with var­i­ous oils that dis­guise its supe­rior qual­i­ties.

Today, the Greek econ­omy needs the kind of boost that recog­ni­tion of the value of its own brands of olive oil, includ­ing oil bot­tled here in Crete, could bring. The Cretan Olive Oil Competition seeks to empha­size the impor­tance of focus­ing on both qual­ity and mar­ket­ing here in Crete and, more broadly, in Greece, so Greek olive oils can begin to attain more of the recog­ni­tion they deserve.

This com­pe­ti­tion was note­wor­thy for the way numer­ous orga­ni­za­tions that deal with Cretan olive oil worked together with the Agro-Food Partnership of Crete and the Region of Crete in its sup­port: the Association of Olive Municipalities of Crete (SEDYK), the Cretan Olive Oil Network, the Exporters’ Association of Crete (SEK), the Organoleptic Evaluation Laboratory of the Union of Agricultural Cooperatives of Rethymno, the Association of Olive Oil Labelling Producers of Crete (SYTEK), and the Institute of [the] Olive Tree and Subtropical Plants of Chania were all spon­sors of the com­pe­ti­tion.

If it con­tin­ues, such coop­er­a­tion among dif­fer­ent orga­ni­za­tions could help improve the posi­tion of Greek olive oil in the global mar­ket, where it could play a far more sig­nif­i­cant role in var­i­ous pop­u­la­tions’ embrace of the cel­e­brated Mediterranean (or Cretan) diet.


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