After Poor Harvest, a Record Year for Tunisia at World Olive Oil Competition

Tunisian producers overcame the lack of rainfall in 2020 and earned a record-high tally of 30 awards at the 2021 NYIOOC.
Photo: Alta Olea
Jun. 7, 2021
Lisa Anderson

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


The per­for­mance by Tunisian pro­duc­ers at this year’s NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition proved once again that olive oil qual­ity is rapidly improv­ing in the North African coun­try.

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.- Saber Abidi, pres­i­dent, Alta Olea

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.

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Photo: Raya Abid

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.”

Further west, in the Beja region, Olivko once again received Gold Awards for its organic oils. It was awarded two for its del­i­cate Chemlali and its medium Chetoui.

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Photo: Karim Fitouri

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.

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Photo: Domaine Adonis

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.

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Photo: Alta Olea

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.


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