Israeli Producers Celebrate Record Year at World Competition

Producers from across the small Middle Eastern country earned one Gold Award and two Silver Awards from four entries.

Ido Tamir
By Wasim Shahzad
Jun. 24, 2021 07:27 UTC
Ido Tamir

Part of our con­tin­u­ing spe­cial cov­er­age of the 2021 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.

Israeli olive oil pro­duc­ers enjoyed a record year at the 2021 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition, earn­ing its first awards at the com­pe­ti­tion since 2015.

Three pro­duc­ers com­bined to win one Gold Award and two Silver Awards at this year’s edi­tion of the world’s most pres­ti­gious olive oil qual­ity com­pe­ti­tion.

Winning awards at the NYIOOC gives us the feel­ing that we have suc­ceeded in build­ing a strong foun­da­tion for our brand.- Ido Tamir, owner, Tamir Farm

The record year at the NYIOOC came despite olive oil pro­duc­tion hit­ting its low­est point since the 2009/10 crop year.

According to International Olive Council data, Israel pro­duced just 11,000 tons of olive oil in the 2020/21 crop year, roughly one-third less than the rolling five-year aver­age.

The pro­duc­tion decrease largely has been attrib­uted to pro­duc­ers enter­ing an off-year in the olive trees’ nat­ural alter­nate bear­ing cycle and com­pli­ca­tions result­ing from the Covid-19 pan­demic.

Among Israel’s win­ning pro­duc­ers was Tamir Farm, which earned a Gold Award for its Ptora Midnight Coratina mono­va­ri­etal.

See Also:The Best Olive Oils from Israel

The olive oil indus­try holds great tra­di­tion in Israel, all through the times of the Bible,” Ido Tamir, the company’s owner, told Olive Oil Times. In this tra­di­tional indus­try, we strive to be inno­v­a­tive.”

Tamir attrib­uted his company’s suc­cess at the com­pe­ti­tion to its com­plete con­trol of the pro­duc­tion process.

We are sit­u­ated in the south­ern part of Israel, but we work accord­ing to European stan­dards,” he said. Being both grow­ers and man­u­fac­tur­ers gives us com­plete con­trol of the process and allows us to imple­ment our high stan­dards through­out the whole pro­ce­dure.”

Along with his Coratina, Tamir also pro­duces olive oils from the endemic Nabali cul­ti­var, for which he pre­vi­ously earned a Gold Award at the 2015 NYIOOC.

Throughout the years, we have come up with sev­eral unique blends of olive oil,” Tamir said. The first one is our Nabali, a local ancient vari­ety, which is dif­fi­cult to grow and has a very low capac­ity of pro­duc­ing oil, mak­ing it rare and cov­eted.”

While Coratina olives are a more com­mon vari­ety, Tamir tries to dif­fer­en­ti­ate the prod­uct by har­vest­ing the olives only at night, when the cool tem­per­a­tures help pre­serve their organolep­tic and chem­i­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics.

Our Midnight Ultra-Premium olive oil is pro­duced with extreme care at night to avoid expo­sure to light and warm tem­per­a­tures,” he said. The olives are metic­u­lously selected at an early stage of the sea­son, har­vested at sun­set, and imme­di­ately trans­ferred to the oil press.”

Here, the extrac­tion process is done in com­plete dark­ness and at very low tem­per­a­tures, pro­duc­ing a gen­tle extrac­tion of the high­est qual­ity,” he added. This unique process results in an excep­tion­ally bright green col­ored olive oil with a fresh, fruity and robust taste.”

Tamir spent more than two years per­fect­ing his mid­night blend, includ­ing six months to develop an ideal design for the bot­tle. The pro­ducer wanted to use the cus­tomers’ first impres­sion of the oil to empha­size how it is pro­duced.


In 2020, Tamir Farm pro­duced 60 tons of olive oil, of which three tons were Ptora Midnight Coratina.

2020 will always be remem­bered as the year of Covid-19,” Tamir said. Producing extra vir­gin olive oil under such uncer­tain­ties was not an easy task. When Covid-19 ini­tially broke out in Israel in March 2020, the uncer­tainty left us breath­less for a while.”

Restaurants were shut­ting down; cor­po­rate cus­tomers were can­cel­ing their orders,” he added. Fortunately, we man­aged to respond pretty quickly, trans­fer­ring our focus to the pri­vate sec­tor that was at home, and showed increased inter­est in cook­ing and fine din­ing at home.”

Tamir hopes to have a bet­ter year in 2021 but said the har­vest sea­son was already off to a tough start due to Israel’s erratic cli­mate.

Unfortunately, low pre­cip­i­ta­tion this win­ter along with sev­eral heat waves in the last few weeks was bound to result in a rel­a­tively low crop,” Tamir said. We might not pro­duce a lot of olive oil in the upcom­ing year, but we will make sure to main­tain our high stan­dard and present the mar­ket with the best pos­si­ble extra vir­gin olive oil.”

For Tamir, part of the attrac­tion of enter­ing the NYIOOC was to estab­lish his brand as a high-qual­ity pro­ducer, and win­ning Gold has helped Tamir Farm achieve just that.

Winning awards at the NYIOOC gives us the feel­ing that we have suc­ceeded in build­ing a strong foun­da­tion for our brand,” he said. Standing in line with the world’s best olive oil pro­duc­ers will pave the way for us in the inter­na­tional mar­kets and will expose us to a new audi­ence.”

On the other side of Israel, the women-led orga­ni­za­tion, Sindyanna of Galilee, was also rec­og­nized at the 2021 NYIOOC, win­ning a Silver Award for its Extra Hopeful Olive Oil blend.


Roha Renana. Photo: Sindyanna of Galilee

Hadas Lahav, Sindyanna of Galilee’s CEO, said that the women of Sindyanna are very proud to receive this inter­na­tional recog­ni­tion, both encour­aged by the award itself and for prov­ing that Arab and Jewish women can make life much bet­ter for them­selves when work­ing together.

Our brand Extra Hopeful Olive Oil came just in time to show that hope for peace and sol­i­dar­ity can come from the Middle East,” Lahav said. The fact that in Sindyanna, Arab and Jewish women work together is the ulti­mate response to the recent vio­lence, war and the destruc­tion of Gaza that we have just expe­ri­enced lately.”

Along with its unique mis­sion, Lahav added that Sindyanna’s olive oils stand out because they are the only Fair Trade Certified prod­ucts in Israel.

We are plant­ing and run­ning Fair Trade organic and envi­ron­ment-friendly olive groves,” she said. We invest in and develop mod­ern and sus­tain­able agri­cul­ture meth­ods for the devel­op­ment of the Arab rural com­mu­nity in Israel.”

All our rev­enues are rein­vested in cre­at­ing jobs for Arab women, devel­op­ing sus­tain­able agri­cul­ture and pro­mot­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion oppor­tu­ni­ties for Arab and Jewish women,” she added.


Photo: Itiel Zion

Like the other Israeli pro­duc­ers, 2020 was a chal­leng­ing year for Sindyanna due to the Covid-19 pan­demic. Its groves yielded six tons of olive oil, which was half of its yield in 2019.

Like every­one else in Israel, the women of Sindyanna worked accord­ing to guide­lines of the Ministry of Health,” Lahav said. Thanks to a spe­cial gov­ern­ment allowance for agri­cul­ture and food pro­duc­ers, some of our work con­tin­ued dur­ing 2020.”

Unfortunately, we had to let some work­ers go at the start of the pan­demic and were unable to re-hire all of them before the resump­tion of work at full pace,” she added.

Despite the set­back, Lahav said pro­duc­tion was not as low as it could have been, and the pan­demic proved that the com­pany was cri­sis-resilient. However, she is hop­ing for a bet­ter har­vest in 2021.

We shall be able to con­tinue to improve our olive oil qual­ity and con­tribute towards the devel­op­ment of high-qual­ity olive oil pro­duc­tion in Galilee,” she said.


Photo: Sindyanna of Galilee

Meanwhile, in cen­tral Israel, the pro­duc­ers behind BVS Premium Jerusalem Olive Oil cel­e­brated win­ning their first-ever Silver Award for its Heart Notes blend.

Despite the pres­ence of some well-known brands of olive oil in Israel, Ashkenazi Hani, the company’s CEO, said her olive oil stands out from the com­pe­ti­tion.

While we are sure that the other win­ners are excel­lent, we feel that our oil is spe­cial as it is pro­duced with much care and patience, involv­ing numer­ous tri­als and test­ing of our fin­ished olive oil,” Hani told Olive Oil Times.

Part of what made this olive oil an award win­ner at the 2021 NYIOOC was the ter­roir on which the olives are grown and the fact that they are har­vested early.

Our pre­ferred method is to pick the olives com­par­a­tively early at the very start of the sea­son to ensure a green and aro­matic blend of olive oil,” Hani said.

BVS Premium Jerusalem Olive Oil pro­duced 8,000 liters of extra vir­gin olive oil in 2020, a lit­tle less than the pre­vi­ous year, which Hani attrib­uted to the pan­demic.


Photo: BVS Premium Jerusalem Olive Oil

We feared that the olive oil pro­duced dur­ing the 2020 har­vest would remain unsold as con­sumers sought to reduce expenses, par­tic­u­larly due to their per­cep­tion of olive oil as a lux­ury item,” she said.

The pro­ducer has to add some cre­ativ­ity to its mar­ket­ing cam­paign to deal with this sit­u­a­tion, which even­tu­ally worked.

During the pan­demic, our pop­u­lar local cam­paigns began encour­ag­ing con­sumers to give pref­er­ence to Israeli agri­cul­tural prod­ucts, par­tic­u­larly olive oil, which helped us in increas­ing our sales con­sid­er­ably,” Hani said. Surprisingly, rather than see­ing a decrease in our sales dur­ing 2020, the oppo­site occurred.”

The Israeli con­sumers joined us in the effort to pro­mote local agri­cul­tural prod­ucts and started mak­ing pur­chases directly from the farm­ers,” she added.

Hani is opti­mistic about the upcom­ing har­vest and is expect­ing a bet­ter yield than the pre­vi­ous year.

We are very excited head­ing into the 2021 har­vest sea­son,” she said. The olive trees have started blos­som­ing, and the fruits are also get­ting mature. All these signs are point­ing toward a good har­vest.”

We will con­tinue the lov­ing care of groves, pick­ing the best olives in the most pre­cise man­ner and pro­duc­ing the finest olive oil,” she added.


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