By Lisa Radinovsky
LONDON - For the first time, an established mainstream international olive oil competition (IOOC) included not only quality and design contests, but also a health claim competition focused on olive oils’ health benefits as well as their taste. The competition was the 2017 London IOOC, where many Greek extra virgin olive oils were recognized for their merits.
Greek olive oils captured a Platinum Health Claim Award, 15 Health Claim and Quality Gold Awards, 32 Silvers, and many more Bronze and Design Awards. Some of the top Greek winners shared their thoughts with Greek Liquid Gold.
Health Claim AwardsAiming “to showcase and promote the health protective properties of high phenolic EVOOs (extra virgin olive oils), combined with a good taste profile,” the London Health Claim competition included a health benefit score (70%, based on the phenolic concentration) and a taste score (30%).
Pantelis Fanourgakis told Greek Liquid Gold that his family was “very proud of our Platinum Award in the Health Claim competition” for their Fanourgakis Family P.D.O. Messara EVOO, because “it was the first time that a Greek extra virgin olive oil got such a high distinction in an international competition” this year.
Crediting “a strictly scientific approach” to the entire olive oil cultivation and production process for their success, Fanourgakis was delighted that “we managed to win the first award and to prove to the whole world that we are able to have excellent taste along with a top level of health-protective characteristics.” He hopes his family’s achievement will help pave the way for “the global recognition of the top quality Greek EVOOs” that are both tasty and deserving of the health claim described in European regulation 432/2012.
Nikos Charamis of Kasell SA mentioned to Greek Liquid Gold that their Phileos EVOO’s Gold Health Claim Award and Bronze Award for Quality “confirm and reward the work that was carried out successfully and consistently by Kasell and its members,” who are always focused on “pursuing quality, systematically and not once or by chance.” Charamis is especially proud that his company produced approximately 4,000 metric tons of “the same top quality,” healthy Phileos EVOO—a much larger quantity than many Greek companies manage.
Michalis Pachnos of Arbor Beata, another winner of a Gold Health Claim Award and a Bronze for Quality for their organic early harvest EVOO, emphasized that olive oil “is a tasty food, the ‘heart’ of the Mediterranean diet and the health benefits associated with it.” Pachnos wants consumers to understand EVOO’s “indisputable health advantages, compared to the rest of the edible vegetable oils.” He adds, “the Mediterranean diet and olive oil are more than a dietary habit”; they are “a cornerstone of our culture, and we need to preserve and disseminate them.”
Many olive oil producers agree, and act on that belief. Gold Health Claim Award winner E-la-won early harvest EVOO and its company’s managing director, Ioannis Kampouris, have received awards elsewhere for collaborating in gastronomy developments and for the support of scientific research on olive oil and health, as well as for E-la-won’s flavor, health benefits, and packaging. E-la-won is popular with many chefs in Greece, Europe, and the United Arab Emirates.
For Eftychios Androulakis of Pamako Mountain EVOO, winner of another Health Claim Gold Award, “olive oil is a hyperfood, not a superfood or just a food.” Like Androulakis, many olive oil producers work very hard to achieve high quality, paying attention to small details because of their “true passion for quality olive juice.” However, Androulakis is unusual in performing many different experiments every year to determine the best way to produce the best possible EVOO, considering variations in weather conditions and different cultivation and production methods.
Quality AwardsThe top Greek winner in the Quality Awards at the London IOOC this year was Charalampos Papadelis, who won Gold Awards for both Sapfo Limited Edition -- which also captured a Bronze Design Award for Total Image – and Sapfo EVOO, blends of Adramitiani and Kolovi EVOOs from Mytilene, Lesvos. Papadelis informed Greek Liquid Gold that “the secret is to control every stage of production,” as his family business does. His olive oil’s name, Sapfo, was inspired by the renowned ancient Greek poet Sappho, and the shape of the bottle’s tag “was inspired by ancient pottery pieces.” Ellie Tragakes of Hellenic Agricultural Enterprises told Greek Liquid Gold that “winning not only Gold with our Acaia flagship oil but also Silver for Acaia Organic is very gratifying” in their first competition in London. They “feel this is a great accomplishment in view of the well known difficulties of this year's harvest” and “are confident that winning top awards on both sides of the Atlantic, in the Pacific, as well as in the Mediterranean will surely support Acaia's growing worldwide recognition.”
Similarly, Dimitris Andriotis and his team hope their Gold Quality Award for Kopos, an Adramitiani-Kolovi EVOO blend, can act as “something like a passport for the markets.” Founded by his grandfather over half a century ago, the Andriotis company’s many years of hard work, respect for the producer, and respect for the consumer have led to exports to the USA, the Middle East, Asia, and Europe. Andriotis believes it “is very important to protect and promote Greek EVOO” and give people the chance to taste it so it can become better known.
Apostolos Tzannos of Νοοs Trade earned both a Bronze Award for Label Design and a Gold Award for Quality for Biotopos, an early harvest, dry farmed, unfiltered organic Koroneiki EVOO produced using “an ultra-modern milling process.” Tzannos explained to Greek Liquid Gold that he and his team insist “on excellent quality and absolute respect for the environment that feeds us,” including the birds and birds’ nests they discover and protect in their organic olive groves. “Honoring nature’s offering, we choose to contribute by producing a product which offers the gift of well-being.” Elisavet Titaki and her team won a Gold Award for Quality for Eliama Daily Value, a Koroneiki EVOO. Titaki told Greek Liquid Gold that olive oil is important in all aspects of Greek life, “in Birth, Baptism, Marriage, and Death, as a sacred means of nutrition, and also in our relationship with the Superior Power. I remember my grandfather and grandmother carrying the fresh olive oil from the factory to the house with such loyalty and reverence. It was the most important part of their diet. Without this they would not survive. For us olive oil was and is not just a high-value food, but something more. This is God’s and nature’s gift to us on earth!”
(This story was originally published on Greek Liquid Gold: Authentic Extra Virgin Olive Oil (greekliquidgold.com) thanking all the winners who responded to the questions, and Pantelis Fanourgakis, Charalampos Papadelis, and Apostolos Tzannos for photos of their companies' products.... See that site for recipes with olive oil, photos from Greece, and olive oil news and information.)