The third Food Expo Greece took place near Athens March 19-21 and, according to exposition organizer Nikos Choudalakis, CEO of Forum SA, the event has “become the leading food and beverage trade show in Southeast Europe,” offering “the largest selection of PDO and PGI products ever assembled on European soil.”
Held a short shuttle bus ride away from the Athens International Airport at the 55,000 square meter Metropolitan Expo site, this year’s Food Expo Greece attracted 970 Greek and international exhibitors, 153 of them exhibiting olive oil, plus 450 hosted buyers and 55,000 trade visitors, including 1,200 from 55 countries outside Greece.
Hosted buyers were representatives of food and beverage companies who participated in the Food Expo Hosted Buyer Program. The program covered air fare and hospitality for the 3 days of the show. Buyers attended 6,750 scheduled business-to-business (B2B) meetings with exhibitors in a specially designed meeting area.
The FOOD EXPO offered several themed events to highlight “the culinary and nutritional value of Greek food and beverages, their dominant position in the food pyramid of the Mediterranean diet, and their exporting potential in the global market,” according to the Expo’s website.
One of these events, the Mediterranean Food Experience, was a three-day gastronomy festival in which famous chefs from Greece, Cyprus (this year’s partner country), and Spain used their local products to create traditional dishes for assessment by an international committee of experts. A movie-theater-sized screen showcased the cooking as well as interviews about the products, and product samples were offered to the audience.
For the second time, the Food Expo was also accompanied by an international trade fair for wine and spirits, the 2nd OENOTELIA, which featured 150 wineries and distilleries from Greece and Cyprus. Other events provided Greek food and beverage industry professionals with useful information: a series of seminars on such topics as marketing, exporting, and distribution; a food and beverage managers’ conference; and a discussion of “Technology and Innovation in Food Processing.”
Visitors seemed pleased with this year’s Food Expo, citing numerous new contacts and productive B2B meetings with buyers. Michael Thomas, a Greek American buyer from Georgia, told Olive Oil Times he was surprised at how well the FoodExpo was organized, adding that he hopes for something even bigger and better next year.
Ioannis Kampouris, managing director of E-LA-WON, and Antoine Tsatsaris, head of exports at Pelasgaea S. A., both compared the FOOD EXPO with the ANUGA and SIAL trade fairs. Tsatsaris reported that about 70 percent of last year’s B2B meetings at the FoodExpo resulted in orders for his company, and he is hoping for the same this year, since he spoke with buyers from Europe, China, USA, Mexico, and Taiwan.
Maria Spiliakopoulou, a newcomer to the FOOD EXPO who founded Oliorama last year and has already attended the New York and San Francisco Fancy Food Shows, said she liked the Athens FOOD EXPO very much, since many buyers from the USA, Canada, Australia, and Europe approached her there.
Effie Stavropoulou of Kanakis Olive Oil was at the FoodExpo for the third time. She complimented the organizers on doing “a really nice job this time,” adding, “every year they’re getting better and better. The hosted buyers and B2B meetings are a good idea, very well organized, with the meetings on time, no delays, very good contacts and conversations with potential clients. We are really happy with this expo,” including its 3-day duration, which she called “ideal.”
Greek olive oil companies exhibited hundreds of high-quality extra virgin olive oils, early harvest, organic, conventional, PDO, and PGI, many in beautifully designed containers, plus some unusual products. For example, Ladolea’s new Organic Sweet Vinegar with Bergamot is (according to their Facebook page) “a unique combination of red vinegar and grape syrup from the famous ‘Agiorgitiko’ grape variety…flavored with natural extract of bergamot peels,” for a surprisingly different taste in vinegar.
Alongside its very high-phenolic extra virgin olive oil, Yanni’s Olive Grove introduced a new product that proved extremely popular with Americans and Scandinavians: a high-energy, low-fat, low sodium healthy sweet/sour/salty snack with no added sugar. This unusual combination of seedless dried olives, nuts, and fruits in a small resealable package can be eaten as a snack or added to salads.
Some companies, such as Cretanthos with its 100-ml bottle of early harvest extra virgin olive oil, and Karpea with a 30-ml bottle of their extra virgin, offered packaging for hotels, restaurants, and airplanes. Constantinos Papadopoulos introduced special new stainless steel bottles designed to preserve the “treasure that’s inside” — his early harvest Mythocia extra virgin — “for people who really know” about high-quality olive oil, as Eva Papadopoulos told Olive Oil Times.
E-LA-WON offered some of the tastiest olive oil snacks—including their extra virgin oil with a bit of chocolate mousse, an unexpectedly wonderful combination, and one of the most striking products at the FOOD EXPO: E-LA-WON Luxury extra virgin olive oil with edible gold flakes floating in the liquid gold.