Part of our continuing special coverage of the 2021 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.
From their first two awards and their 20 percent success rate at the 2014 NYIOOC, the world’s largest exporter of organic olive oil enjoyed their best-ever NYIOOC performance in 2021, earning 30 awards – including 18 Golds – and achieving its third-highest success rate ever of 52 percent this year.
These results filled us with pride and motivated us to keep going and produce better extra virgin olive oil every year.
After entering last year’s harvest with a bleak outlook following scanty rainfall and the ramifications of unsuitable farming practices used by some olive growers, the NYIOOC results were a welcome relief.
Among the biggest Tunisian winners at this year’s NYIOOC were the producers behind Viaraya, which earned three awards, including for its organic Oleastra brand that is produced on a family estate in northeastern Tunisia.See Also: The Best Olive Oils from Tunisia
This year’s performance was an improvement for the producers compared with the previous year, in which Viaraya took home two awards.
The company was awarded two Golds for its medium Chetoui and its delicate Sehli and a Silver for its medium blend.
“It’s comforting to win awards two years in a row,” owner Raya Abid told Olive Oil Times. “It means we’re on the right track. We seriously take into account the feedback of the panel to reproduce what we did well and to correct what we did wrong.”
For Abid, one of the keys to repeat success at the NYIOOC is a passion for producing the best-possible extra virgin olive oil.
“First, you need to be passionate about what you do because that’s your everyday life,” she said. “Then you don’t lose sight of your long-term vision, and the positive thing is that this vision gets clearer with time.”
“To achieve your objectives, you need dedication, discipline, and enthusiasm,” she added.
Abid said it is essential to promote good producers and their products because there are “so many bad oils on the market.”
“Winning in the NYIOOC is always confirmation that an oil we have produced is of excellent quality,” Karim Fitouri, the founder and owner of Olivko, told Olive Oil Times.
Fitouiri attributed his success to the knowledge he has gained over the years, including from courses he attended at the Olive Oil Times Education Lab. He added that part of what makes a successful olive oil producer is the excitement and willingness to take on the challenges of each new season.
“Every year is a challenge, but it is also part of the fun being a producer of extra virgin olive oil, as every year you are gaining an experience how to deal with it,” he said.
Domaine Adonis, another producer located in northwestern Tunisia, outdid its stellar performance at the 2020 NYIOOC, improving upon last year’s two Silver Awards with two Gold Awards for its organic oils at the most recent edition of the competition.
Salah Ben Ayed, the company’s general manager, said they were “very happy and proud to win two new Gold Awards at this prestigious competition” after being awarded for a medium Arbosana and a robust Chetoui.
“Success in any competition comes from a great passion for olive oil, as well as careful and rigorous work at all stages of production,” Ben Ayed told Olive Oil Times.
“Our efforts continue with each harvest, which gives us excellent results,” he added. “Therefore, exceptional oils from our land are awarded by prestigious competitions in the world such as NYIOOC.”
Among the first-time producers to win at the 2021 NYIOOC was Alta Olea, a two-year-old brand produced by a family estate in the north of Tunisia, which earned a Gold Award for its medium Chetoui.
“Winning a Gold Award at the NYIOOC is proof that passion and hard work can be rewarded,” Saber Abidi, the president of Alta Olea, told Olive Oil Times. “These results filled us with pride and motivated us to keep going and produce better extra virgin olive oil every year.”
“Our family worked day and night to produce quality olive oil,” he added. “We pay attention to all the details, starting from the respect of olive varieties that can offer us olive oils rich in taste but also in health benefits.”
Along with their love for producing olive oil, Abidi and his family are also passionate about the land. This has transformed into efforts to preserve the latter while expertly crafting the former.
“Our extra virgin olive oil is produced to guarantee the sustainability of our terroir in Tunisia, and it’s something that we are proud of,” Abidi said, adding that this combination would hopefully see them earning future awards.
“We are sure of one thing — that it’s certainly not our last victory, even if it’s the first in the NYIOOC,” he concluded.