Turkish Olive Oils Win Acclaim in World Competition

After an off-year harvest complicated by the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change, producers from Turkey celebrated a record-high 44 awards.

Ferzan Batum (right), owner of Palamidas.
Jun. 15, 2021
By Wasim Shahzad
Ferzan Batum (right), owner of Palamidas.

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


Turkish pro­duc­ers enjoyed a record year at the 2021 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition, earn­ing 44 awards from 91 entries.

Producers from the world’s fourth-largest olive oil-pro­duc­ing nation (in 2020) took home 18 Gold Awards, tied with last year’s record high, and 26 Silver Awards, more than they had totaled since the com­pe­ti­tion began in 2013.

We believe that the prizes in the NYIOOC are very impor­tant to pro­vide vis­i­bil­ity to our prod­ucts. They also prove that our qual­ity con­tin­ues every year.- Bahar Alan, owner, NovaVera

This year’s record awards haul comes after a chal­leng­ing har­vest sea­son in which bad weather com­pounded an off-year to lower pro­duc­tion to some­where between 180,000 tons and 210,000 tons. However, pro­duc­ers from across the coun­try told Olive Oil Times that they expect pro­duc­tion to con­tinue trend­ing upward.

A recent ban on bulk olive oil exports, which will remain in place until October, has also shifted many pro­duc­ers’ empha­sis to indi­vid­u­ally pack­aged olive oils. Awards from the NYIOOC are seen as one of the best ways to help pro­duc­ers dif­fer­en­ti­ate their prod­ucts in a crowded mar­ket­place.

See Also: The Best Olive Oils from Turkey

Among the biggest win­ners – NovaVera, Hermus, Safitad and Genius Olive Oil – were the ones that have won pre­vi­ously at the world’s most pres­ti­gious olive oil qual­ity com­pe­ti­tion.

Hermus has entered the NYIOOC since the begin­ning of the com­pe­ti­tion,” Ali Zihnioglu, the company’s owner, told Olive Oil Times. The pro­ducer has earned a Gold and three Silvers Awards this year.

We are always proud of our prod­ucts because we have main­tained our qual­ity,” he added. Also, our oil comes directly from our care­fully-con­trolled orchards.”

Another win­ner, Palamidas, earned two Gold Awards in its first attempt at the World Olive Oil Competition.

Winning two Gold Awards made us feel very inspired about our future and showed us that we are on the right path on pro­duc­ing a unique and high-qual­ity prod­uct,” Ferzan Batum, the company’s owner, told Olive Oil Times.

The pro­duc­ers behind Safitad also earned two awards at this year’s NYIOOC, tak­ing home a Gold and Silver Award. Last year, the com­pany earned just one Silver Award, Mehmet Taki, the company’s owner, said.

Meanwhile, third-time win­ner NovaVera has also emerged as one of the most promis­ing Turkish pro­duc­ers.

Its Trilye Early Harvest brand has earned a Gold Award for the third con­sec­u­tive year, while three of the company’s other oils each earned a Silver Award.

This is our third year in the NYIOOC,” Bahar Alan, the company’s owner, told Olive Oil Times. We were happy to hear that out of the four sam­ples we sent. NovaVera Trilye got the Gold Award (as always), and our Ayvalik, Yamalak and Organic were awarded Silver.”

Founded by Alan in 2018, NovaVera spe­cial­izes in pro­duc­ing local Turkish olive oil vari­eties. The pro­ducer has also added a com­po­nent of female empow­er­ment to its brand by chang­ing the labels on its bot­tles. The new labels have been cre­ated by a female painter from Turkey and illus­trate the por­traits of women.

According to Alan, these illus­tra­tions rep­re­sent the unique char­ac­ter­is­tics of the olive oil inside the bot­tle: del­i­cate, strong, fruity and vivid, among oth­ers.

In a world of ide­al­ized images, we want to encour­age women to be their own self and embrace their own traits,” she said. We also want to empha­size that women in their cre­ative and pro­duc­tive mode can pro­duce won­ders. Being a brand cre­ated by a woman entre­pre­neur, we want to inspire all the women to chase their dreams.”

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Harvesting at the farms of Safitad

Among Turkey’s other win­ning pro­duc­ers was Genius Olive Oil, which earned a Gold Award again for its medium Arbequina.

Founded by Tarkan Karakaya and Oguz Cakir, the com­pany has also par­tic­i­pated in five other global com­pe­ti­tions and earned sev­eral awards.

We believe that high-qual­ity olives are the pre-req­ui­site for pro­duc­ing the high-qual­ity olive oil,” Karakaya said. We pro­duce very high-qual­ity olives in our own olive grove. As the own­ers of the com­pany, we con­tin­u­ously super­vise the process in all stages; from plant­ing the olive tree to bot­tling the olive oil.”

We also har­vest very early using the spe­cial har­vest­ing machine Gregoire 140’ and, in a cou­ple of hours, we start our pro­duc­tion at the mill while main­tain­ing the stan­dards of prepa­ra­tion, clean­li­ness and hygiene,” Cakir added.

According to all the win­ning pro­duc­ers, the 2020 har­vest came with plenty of chal­lenges, but 2021 is already look­ing like it will be a much more fruit­ful year.

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NovaVera’s olive groves in Ayvalik, Turkey

We pro­duced 500 tons of olives this year; our pro­duc­tion increases about 30-per­cent each year as the trees in our groves grew older,” Alan said. This year was a bet­ter year in terms of tem­per­a­ture, com­pared to 2020.”

Karakaya and Cakir are also expect­ing a higher olive yield this year and hope­fully bet­ter qual­ity too.

In 2020, the quan­tity of crop was a bit less than pre­vi­ous years due to cli­mate change,” they said. We pro­duced 40,000 liters of olive oil.”

Regarding the 2021 har­vest, they added, we are very opti­mistic, and we look for­ward to grow­ing olives in a greater quan­tity. We hope that the impacts of cli­mate change will be less severe, and our qual­ity and quan­tity will be higher this year and in the years to come.”

Likewise, v, the owner of Hermus, said that 2021 was shap­ing up to be a bet­ter year than 2020 was.

Last year, we were affected by the expo­sure to too much heat dur­ing the time of blos­som­ing, like other pro­duc­ers, and there­fore we pro­duced 50,000 bot­tles,” he said. This year, we are expect­ing over 100,000 bot­tles.”

Zihnioglu added that the pro­duc­tion and qual­ity of olives are depen­dent upon nat­ural fac­tors, espe­cially the cli­mate.

To pro­duce pre­mium olive oil is always chal­leng­ing because if you make mis­takes in the pro­duc­tion, har­vest or tim­ing, you can never cor­rect that,” he said.

According to Taki, Safitad’s owner, 2020 was a stress­ful year due to the Covid-19 pan­demic and a very dry sum­mer, but they man­aged to deal effec­tively with the chal­lenges.

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Harvesting of Olives in Safitad Farms

Besides talk­ing about the chal­lenges being faced by the olive oil indus­try, the owner of Palamidas said hard work and the abil­ity to adapt are cru­cial to suc­cess.

While Mother Nature is unpre­dictable and increas­ing anom­alies in the weather due to cli­mate change put a strain on our work, we con­stantly inno­vate to fight with its adverse effects,” Batum said. We have much to learn, but so far we have been suc­cess­ful in adapt­ing to the chang­ing envi­ron­ment. Indeed, hard work pays off.”

Producers from around Turkey said that win­ning awards at the NYIOOC helps them cre­ate a pos­i­tive brand image and raise the pro­files of their respec­tive regions. It also pro­vides them with mul­ti­ple oppor­tu­ni­ties to export their oils all over the world.

I always feel proud of get­ting prizes from the NYIOOC because it is the most pres­ti­gious and famous com­pe­ti­tion in the world,” Zihnioglu said.

Taki added that win­ning th Gold Award will sig­nif­i­cantly impact his brand, par­tic­u­larly in terms of gar­ner­ing inter­est from abroad.

Similarly, Batum said that win­ning two Gold Awards at the NYIOOC in their first attempt was a proud moment for her brand and demon­strates that it is suit­able for inter­na­tional recog­ni­tion.

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Harvesting at Genius Olive Oil groves

Karakaya and Cakir agreed that win­ning at the most impor­tant olive oil com­pe­ti­tion feels good and rewards a year’s worth of hard work.

Alan said that win­ning so con­sis­tently at the NYIOOC gives her brand an edge in the com­pet­i­tive export mar­ket.

We are cur­rently export­ing our prod­ucts to the United States, Europe and South Korea,” she said. We believe that the new prizes in the NYIOOC are very impor­tant to pro­vide vis­i­bil­ity to our prod­ucts. They also prove that our qual­ity con­tin­ues every year and that we aim for qual­ity not just for a sin­gle prod­uct, but for our whole prod­uct line.”


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