Part of our continuing special coverage of the 2021 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.
Nearly one month after the dust has settled on the results of the 2021 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition and producers from Jordan are still celebrating.
Located in the heart of the Levant, the historic home of the olive tree, Jordanian producers earned a record-high four awards from the world’s most prestigious olive oil quality competition, including three Gold Awards and a Silver Award.
(This success) has raised our brand name internationally and in the domestic market. Also, it has motivated us to become more ambitious for the upcoming season.
While producers from Jordan entered the competition on two previous occasions – 2015 and 2016 – this year was the first time Jordanian extra virgin olive oil had ever been awarded.See Also: The Best Olive Oils from Jordan
For most Jordanian producers, the 2020/21 crop year was fairly average. The International Olive Council estimates production reached 25,000 tons, slightly above the rolling five-year average, but far less than the record-high 34,500 tons recorded in 2019/20.
The incredibly hot temperatures throughout northern olive-growing regions of Jordan paired with many producers entering an off-year in the natural alternate bearing cycle of the olive trees were attributed to the production decrease.
However, Amelia Bilbeisi, the head of the Middle East region at Al-Maida Agricultural, said Jordan’s climate is part of what makes its olive oils stand out.
“The terroir of the Jordanian desert provides our oil with unique characteristics and we carefully craft them to the organoleptic profiles and goals we set for the season,” she told Olive Oil Times.
Al-Maida Agricultural emerged as the biggest winner from the Middle East at the NYIOOC, earning two Gold Awards for its Arbequina and Arbosana blends, and a Silver Award for its Koroneiki blend.
“This has raised our brand name internationally and in the domestic market,” Bilbeisi said. “Also, it has motivated us to become more ambitious for the upcoming season and has made us focus on further improving our quality standards.”
Despite endowing the company’s olive oils with its distinct organoleptic qualities, Bilbeisi added that the extremely hot and dry weather combined with the Covid-19 pandemic made 2020 quite a challenging year for the company.
“We produced more this year than the last year, although we had unseasonable hot weather before the start of the harvest,” she said. “Our total production volume was 125 tons of extra virgin olive oil.”
“A pandemic-stricken economic situation and extremely hot weather were the two most severe challenges we faced last year,” she added.
“It was a nice feeling to get the Gold Award in our first time participating,” owner Fayyad El Ziuod told Olive Oil Times, attributing his success to his mill’s state-of-the-art equipment and dedicated team of professionals.
“We produce high-quality olive oil with great care, considering the highest international standards of local varieties with national origins,” he added.
According to El Ziuod, the high cost of production is one of the biggest challenges faced by Al-Zyoudi and other Jordanian producers.
“In 2020, our production volume was 250,000 kilograms, which was good enough and within the usual rate of production but its cost exceeded by $7.00 (€5.90) per liter,” he said.
However, El Ziuod added that the quality of the olive oil should never be compromised to save on cost and for this reason, the company does not mind bearing the high cost of production. High quality helps promote the brand, El Ziuod reasoned, and therefore investing in it will pay dividends in the future.
For El Ziuod, successfully producing high-quality extra virgin olive oil each year, something he has been doing since opening the mill in 1993, requires a high level of dedication and teamwork.
“To provide the right olives to produce at the right time and to get the required quality, we work really hard,” he said.
“We are proud that our product is in the most important olive oil competition in the world,” El Ziuod concluded. “My passion increases with the result of this competition. The Gold Award will add value to our product and brand.”