1. Who are the judges for the ATHENAIOOC? Open or Close
All the members of the ATHENAIOOC jury have extensive experience in the organoleptic assessment of olive oil, with certification as tasters from international or national certification bodies, and have repeatedly participated as judges in established international olive oil competitions. The competition rules require that two thirds of its judges come from abroad and occupy a prominent position in their country's olive oil status, and also in international olive oil status, sometimes holding key places or even being “celebrities” in the field. Click here to see the judges and their résumés.
2. Who can participate in the ATHENAIOOC, why should I participate in an international competition in Greece, and what are the potential benefits of my participation? Open or Close
Olive oils from all the olive oil producing countries in the world, from both the northern and southern hemispheres, can participate in the ATHENAIOOC if they have a purely commercial purpose and are legally labeled and packaged in bottles of up to 1 liter. In addition, “flavored” or “infused” olive oils from the special category of oils flavored or enriched with herbs, spices, etc. may participate. Click here (§2.1) for more information.
The benefits for an olive oil from its participation in successful olive oil competitions are obvious (even if it does not win an award, especially if the competition organizer sends specific, and of course confidential, information about the impression made by the non-awarded olive oils and their defects, etc. to the producer or whoever sent it – as the ATHENAIOOC does). These are the main benefits:
- Improvement of the position of award winning olive oils in relation to their competitors, providing more negotiating tools for their placement on the market.
- Prestige, differentiation and goodwill in the eyes of consumers and merchants when they see the sticker on the award-winning olive oil bottle, even if consumers and traders are unfamiliar with the olive oil competition that awarded it (purely in the context of basic marketing).
- The well-earned satisfaction of producers after their labor and efforts.
The ATHENAIOOC is one of the world's most up and coming international olive oil competitions, if not the most promising, and its name is already heard and respected. This is confirmed by both the level of increasing numbers of samples and the trust of important olive oil producers who participate in many of the world's most reputable competitions and sweep the prizes, and also by the trust of well-known (often famous) judges who honor the ATHENAIOOC Committee as its members.
Apart from this, there is also the symbolism of the ATHENAIOOC concerning its venue and, of course, its homeland, Greece, the beginning of everything for olive oil, which is still a leading player in olive oil in various ways. All of this makes the ATHENAIOOC a superlative choice of competitions. For many olive growers who respect olive oil and its history, this choice can even be described as visionary.
3. How do I participate, what is the application deadline, how many samples may I submit, and what is the cost? Are there special prices if I submit more than one sample? Open or Close
To see the relevant deadlines, click here (§2.7 & 6.1). Each participating company may submit as many different samples of olive oil to the ATHENAIOOC as they want, as long as they meet the conditions for participation in the competition.
For participation costs, click here (§2.3). If the registration and proof of payment are received within the early bird registration period, an early bird discount applies.
In addition, for those wishing to enter more than one olive oil sample in the competition, a specific combined discount policy has been established, depending on the number of samples to be sent (for detailed information, please click here – §2.3). Payment can be made by bank deposit, by credit card payment via Pay Pal, or with a check made out to Vinetum Ltd.
4. How many bottles do I need to ship from each sample code, what is the shipping process, and when do the samples have to be received by ATHENAIOOC? Open or Close
The number of bottles to be dispatched to ATHENAIOOC depends on the capacity of each olive oil package (click here – §2.5). The phrase “sample without commercial value” should appear on the package (on each bottle or other type of package), in the box, and also on the dispatch note.
For deadlines, click here (§2.7 & 6.1). After the samples are received and inspected by the technical committee, you will be sent a confirmation email and update (for more information, click here – §3.1).
5. Do I have to go to the competition and be there during the competition? Open or Close
Only the olive oil samples need to be present during the competition; the presence of producers and their representatives is not expected. Actually, it is important for the jury to be able to perform its work unhindered and without distraction, undisturbed by the presence of persons or other events. However, producers and their representatives are most welcome at the special awards ceremony.
6. Who is responsible for the cost of sending the samples and the cost of customs clearance, if required? Open or Close
The cost of sending the samples, as well as any potential tax or customs clearance costs that may arise, are not borne by the organizing company, but only by the competition participant, who is also responsible for the customs clearance of the olive oil samples. The organizing company of ATHENAIOOC has no responsibility for the qualitative situation of the samples until the time of their receipt at ATHENAIOOC’s premises (click here – §2.6 and read carefully the relevant section of the regulations).
- 7. When will the results be announced, and how can I find out about them? Open or Close
8. My olive oil has already been positively evaluated by an accredited organoleptic tasting panel and is already certified as "extra virgin olive oil”. So why participate in the ATHENA competition? Is there a difference in the evaluations? Open or Close
According to the International Olive Council’s regulations, the evaluation of olive oil by accredited organoleptic panels involves the detection of positive and negative particularities of each olive oil in order to classify it in a certain category (extra virgin olive oil, virgin olive oil or lampante), according to the presence of fruitiness and the presence (or absence) and intensity of one or more defects, without a general assessment of the taste or other aspects of the product’s quality. In international competitions, the judges evaluate all aspects of the taste of each competing olive oil, emphasizing the complexity of its aromas, the harmony of its flavors, its aftertaste, etc.: elements that relate to the quality of the olive oil and also define its stability over time. They also judge the response that it could receive on the international market, given the existing competition. In other words, these are two totally different assessments in terms of their objective and much more. Evaluation in an international competition can lead to an award, a distinction that will also be a marketing tool for the product.
9. Why don’t all competitions give the same scores and prizes to an olive oil? Why can an olive oil win one award in one competition but win a different award or even no distinction in another one? Open or Close
Assuming that the sample of the same olive oil that takes part in each contest has not undergone any kind of qualitative alteration, there are many reasons why it can receive awards in some competitions, but not in others, or may receive different medals in different competitions (which is why even those commonly accepted as the world's top olive oils take part in various competitions):
- The judging panel members for each contest differ, both in level and per panel, and accordingly their assessments are different. For its committee, ATHENAIOOC selects only qualified and well-known judges, according to both their level of expertise and their recognition in international olive oil happenings. With regard to possible differences per committee panel, ATHENAIOOC ensures the best possible relationship between panel members under the guidance of the committee leader, who is a person with global prestige and acceptance in the olive oil world. Special tasting tests are used for optimum calibration to balance the panels of the committee, so their ratings are as close as possible to the same level, almost as if they were all on one panel.
- Each evaluation is a snapshot taken at a particular time, the main points of which are the olive oil (each specific bottle), the specific judges (who remain human, however high their level), the moment of evaluation and the circumstances. All these are the basic components, with the result a literally "chaotic" procedure which cannot be repeated unchanged. All the more so when the above mentioned components change (e.g. another olive oil bottle, which, even if it is unaltered, is tested at a different time by different judges under different tasting conditions).
- The point range that corresponds to each prize (medal) is not the same in all competitions. Consequently, an award winning olive oil with a gold medal in one competition may receive a silver at another, even if it earned nearly or even exactly the same score, due to the rules of that competition regarding the points required to earn each medal.
10. Can I try the ATHENAIOOC-awarded olive oils so that I know the competition and can compare it with my own? Open or Close
Yes, since ATHENAIOOC's special award ceremony is preceded by many hours for tasting all the ATHENAIOOC award winning oils. This is a "mini-exhibition" of leading olive oils, which olive oil producers, olive mill owners, merchants, standardizers, and deli owners, as well as restaurant, catering and tourism professionals and simple consumers and friends of olive oil can visit (and are invited to visit).
It is the only event of its kind for olive oil (especially high quality olive oil) in Greece. It has already been honored with the presence of both Greek olive oil producers and very fine ATHENAIOOC prize winners who came to Greece from abroad just for this, starting with its very first edition in 2016. It is also a rare opportunity for professionals in relevant businesses to try all of ATHENAIOOC's award-winning olive oils.
At this tasting event, visitors will learn about the ATHENA international competition, enrich their tasting experiences by sampling unfamiliar olive varieties and olive oil from different countries, exchange views with olive growers and others, and, for those with the appropriate job title, select olive oils for professional use.