Winners from Greece continue to share their enthusiasm for their record number of NYIOOC awards, a sign that the Greek olive oil sector is alive and well.
Part of our continuing special coverage of the 2021 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.
As the dust continues to settle on the 2021 edition of the NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition, producers from around Greece continued to celebrate their extraordinary success.
Producers, exporters, farmers, bottlers and distributors from across the country combined to earn a record-high 99 awards and 45 Gold Awards. While many extra virgin olive oils from Crete and the Peloponnese were recognized, producers from the rest of Greece did not lack quality either.
It is a great pleasure to see so many winners from Greece this year, which reaffirms the quality of the Greek olive oils of the 2020/21 harvesting season.
Greece’s olive oil sector employs thousands of families and generates an annual income of more than €700 million for the country’s growers and producers.
Spilios Livanos, the minister of agriculture, highlighted the importance of the olive oil sector in a recent promotional event held in Athens.See Also: The Best Olive Oils from Greece
“We must emphasize and capitalize on the potential of the Greek olive sector, even more, to make Greek olive oil synonymous with quality worldwide,” Livanos said during the event.
“It is our duty to do everything possible to protect, facilitate and enhance its [olive oil’s] production and promotion in international markets,” he added.
As part of a new initiative to promote Greek food products, the ministry has set up two working groups – one for the olive oil sector and another one for the table olive sector.
Livanos said the goal is to “formulate our national strategy by giving solutions to chronic problems, correcting mistakes and changing bad mentalities of the past,” and “exhibit their nutritional superiority and give them added value inside and outside of the Greek border.”
The minister’s words fit perfectly with the extraordinary performance of the country’s olive oil professionals at the NYIOOC, the world’s most prestigious olive oil quality competition.
Both returning and first-time participants told Olive Oil Times that they enjoyed seeing their names filling up the country’s winners grid on the Official Index of the World’s Best Olive Oils.
“It is a great pleasure to see so many winners from Greece this year, which reaffirms the quality of the Greek olive oils of the 2020/21 harvesting season,” Eleftheria Kasfiki, the export manager of Olico Brokers from Athens, said. “We hope that more similar seasons will come for our country, that will pleasantly surprise buyers and retail consumers.”
Bottler and exporter Olico Brokers left the competition with three Silver Awards for their Olico, Green Diamond Superior and Green Diamond Organic extra virgin olive oils.
“The three awards in such an established competition is the accomplishment of our hard work and effort, and the acknowledgment of the high quality of our products,” Kasfiki said. “At Olico Brokers, we pledge to retain the quality superiority of our products and constantly evolve to win more awards in the future.”
Meanwhile, Pangaio Manufaktur, a new and promising grower and olive oil producer based in northern Greece, at the foot of Mount Pangaio, debuted in NYIOOC this year, earning a Gold Award for its early-harvested Aoron, a Megaritiki monovarietal.
“We are honored and proud to receive such a recognition already in our first year of production,” the owners Beate and Michail Samaras said, adding that the conditions of the harvesting season were far from ideal for their business.
“Being a small artisan family producer transitioning our olive grove to regenerative farming in such a hot and dry year was a great challenge,” they said.
“As we believe farming works only together with nature, we are the only producer in our region that applies strict regenerative farming methods – no use of pesticides, only regional organic compost for fertilizing – for the benefit of the environment, the health of our orchard and, of course, the quality of our extra virgin olive oil from early harvested olives,” the pair added.
“All year long, we work hard for healthy soils and trees, delicious olives and a speedy yet careful harvest,” they continued. “This approach has been very rewarding to us, but it takes a lot of additional manual labor and the need to detect any pests at a very early stage.”
The Samarases said that they were extremely thankful to their early customers and supporters, who encouraged them to continue on the challenging path they have chosen.
“This award greatly motivates us for the coming season, and we are thrilled to improve our groves further,” they said.
Kyklopas, another northern producer with a Gold Award at the NYIOOC, harvests its olives from the Makri olive grove, one of the oldest in the Mediterranean comprising olive trees aged thousands of years.
The company has been participating in the NYIOOC since its early years, celebrating awards in each edition of the competition.
“We are thrilled to be awarded at the NYIOOC for the ninth consecutive year,” Valia Kelidou told Olive Oil Times. “The award reaffirms the top quality of our olive oil.”
“Kyklopas is a family-run business, and we will continue to take extra care of every small detail to be able to offer the best to over 25 countries we currently export,” she added.
Kelidou’s extra virgin olive oil has also received the European Union’s Protected Designation of Origin quality label.
To Alsea, a grower and producer based in Agrinio in the country’s midwest, receiving their first Gold Award at NYIOOC for its extra virgin from their 300-year-old olive grove was the culmination of a laborious but rewarding season, complemented by the prevailing favorable conditions.
“It is true that we are very proud of our award in such an established competition as the NYIOOC,” owner Nikolaos Sigounas told Olive Oil Times. “It was our first win in the contest, and we are delighted to earn a Gold Award after working so hard.”
“We should say, of course, that the conditions throughout the harvesting season were almost perfect for a great yield of olive oil both in terms of quality and quantity,” he added.
In the Aegean Sea, far away from the Greek mainland, sits the island of Lesbos, which is well-known for its vast olive groves of more than 11 million trees that produce the island’s distinctive yellowish olive oil.
Among the island’s top producers is the Jordan Olivenöl company, which earned three Gold Awards. The producer earned them for its Bambatsa Extra Wild, from the Kolovi variety, and for two blends of the Kolovi and Adramytiani varieties.
“We feel honored and humbled to receive these awards,” Bastian Jordan proudly and succinctly said. “They acknowledge the nature and humans involved, including our farmer friends, ourselves and the team working in our olive mill.”
“A Gold Award in our second participation in the NYIOOC is a tremendous distinction that gives us an immense sense of satisfaction,” a spokesperson for the company told Olive Oil Times. “After more than 60 years in the business, our ultimate goal is to produce olive oil of the highest quality, and the objective judgment of those who know shows us that we are on the right track.”
The company was not immune to the special conditions and requirements of the season, which was heavily impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. On the other hand, they were fortunate enough to enjoy a great season in terms of weather conditions and successfully tackling the olive tree pathogens.
“It was an unprecedented year for the whole world, affecting us and the operation of our company as well, ” the spokesperson said. “We respected all the restrictions and instructions provided by doctors and scientists to confront Covid-19, and we increased the benefits to the producers we collaborate with to provide incentives to continue their harvest.”
“As far as quality is concerned, we have to thank the perfect weather that greatly helped the blossoming of the trees and the effective confrontation of the olive fruit fly and other pests,” the spokesperson concluded. “Judging by the result, we all together contributed to achieving a perfect outcome this season.”