`World Olive Oil Competition Entries Way Up From Turkey, Croatia, Italy, Greece - Olive Oil Times

World Olive Oil Competition Entries Way Up From Turkey, Croatia, Italy, Greece

Apr. 26, 2021
Daniel Dawson

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Despite a chal­leng­ing har­vest across the Mediterranean basin and the eco­nomic hard­ships brought on by the Covid-19 pan­demic, the 2021 NYIOOC World Olive Competition has received a record 1,171 entries from 28 coun­tries, accord­ing to the orga­niz­ers.

Producers from Croatia, Greece, Italy and Turkey signed up in record num­bers to com­pete on the world stage, and many sub­mit­ted new prod­uct vari­a­tions to dis­tin­guish their brands in the global mar­ket­place.

Several fac­tors — from more time spent in the olive groves to good har­vests — were cited as rea­sons more pro­duc­ers decided to sub­mit their oils to the 9th edi­tion of the world’s largest and most pres­ti­gious olive oil qual­ity con­test.

See Also:World Olive Oil Competition Receives Record Number of Entries

Turkey was among the coun­tries that saw a sig­nif­i­cant rel­a­tive increase in entries, with twice as many pro­duc­ers enter­ing the World Olive Oil Competition in 2021 as in 2020.

Turkish pro­duc­ers sub­mit­ted 91 entries this year, roughly as many entries from the coun­try as in the three pre­vi­ous years com­bined.

Suzan Kantarcı Savas, an NYIOOC panel mem­ber from Turkey, told Olive Oil Times she believes pro­duc­ers’ strate­gies are chang­ing to adapt to the global mar­ket­place.

When I talked with pro­duc­ers about the com­pe­ti­tion five years ago, they did­n’t believe [it would be help­ful],” she said. Nowadays, new gen­er­a­tions think dif­fer­ently. They want to pro­duce qual­i­fied olive oil and they want to share their value with the world.”

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Top 10 par­tic­i­pat­ing coun­tries 2021 NYIOOC

While this trend has been chang­ing over time, the more imme­di­ate expla­na­tion for the spike in new entries in this edi­tion of the com­pe­ti­tion may also be explained by the dra­matic shift in olive oil con­sump­tion trends.

The pan­demic shut­tered much of the country’s hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tor but increased the demand for indi­vid­u­ally pack­aged olive oils for house­hold use. The NYIOOC awards are seen as a way for pro­duc­ers to stand out from a crowded field and exploit the pan­demic-borne trend toward authen­tic prod­ucts.


Suzan Kantarci Savas

Kantarcı Savas believes eco­nom­ics also played a role in the jump in entries. Over the past decade, the Turkish lira has steadily depre­ci­ated against the dol­lar and cur­rently sits at its low­est point ever.

A weak lira increases the prof­itabil­ity of indi­vid­u­ally pack­aged olive oil exports from Turkey. An award that demon­strates the value of Turkish oils abroad can increase sales and bring hard cur­rency into the coun­try.

Croatian pro­duc­ers also sub­mit­ted a record-high num­ber of entries to this year’s NYIOOC, send­ing in 105 sam­ples, 75 per­cent more than last year’s total.

A com­bi­na­tion of olive oil pro­duc­tion hit­ting a four-year high paired with excel­lent qual­ity reported through­out the coun­try likely con­tributed to the rise in entries.

However, Karolina Brkić Bubola, a panel leader from Croatia, attrib­uted the increase to smaller pro­duc­ers seek­ing to stand out on the inter­na­tional stage.

Small pro­duc­ers can­not com­pete on the inter­na­tional mar­kets in terms of quan­tity,” Brkić Bubola told Olive Oil Times. For Croatian pro­duc­ers, pre­sent­ing an oil to the NYIOOC is an oppor­tu­nity to get inter­na­tional recog­ni­tion of the qual­ity of their extra vir­gin olive oils, which also brings recog­ni­tion to the whole of Croatia as a pro­duc­ing coun­try.”


Karolina Brkić Bubola

Along with many other Mediterranean coun­tries impacted by the Covid-19 pan­demic, domes­tic olive oil con­sump­tion in Croatia dipped as the restau­rant and hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tors closed.

As they did in Turkey, pro­duc­ers are increas­ingly look­ing out­ward to sell olive oils, and the NYIOOC is seen as one of the best ways to raise brand aware­ness.

Winning an award in this com­pe­ti­tion could give pro­duc­ers bet­ter vis­i­bil­ity in the inter­na­tional mar­ket and access to a larger num­ber of online cus­tomers inter­ested in their prod­uct,” Brkić Bubola said. In this pan­demic sit­u­a­tion, [online sales] have become one of the strong tools for pre­sent­ing their prod­ucts.”

Antonio G. Lauro, a nine-time NYIOOC panel mem­ber and 2021 panel leader, agrees that pro­duc­ers increas­ingly see awards from olive oil com­pe­ti­tions as a way to add value to their prod­ucts.

Today, world pro­duc­ers are much more care­ful and shrewd in iden­ti­fy­ing the most effec­tive busi­ness mar­ket­ing strate­gies,” he told Teatro Naturale. They do not par­tic­i­pate ran­domly in oil events; if any­thing, they favour par­tic­i­pa­tion in occa­sions whose effec­tive­ness is proven to be a true pro­mo­tion of their prod­ucts.”

See Also:Winning in New York Opens Doors, Encourages Innovation Say Producers

Do com­pe­ti­tions sell extra vir­gin olive oil?” he added. Of course, yes.”

This year, Italian pro­duc­ers sub­mit­ted 260 entries to the 2021 NYIOOC, the most entries ever from the coun­try.


Antonio. G. Lauro

The increase comes despite a rel­a­tively poor har­vest in the coun­try, which yielded about 255,000 tons, a 30-per­cent decrease com­pared with last year’s har­vest and a 40-per­cent decrease com­pared to the 2017/18 crop year.

Lauro told Olive Oil Times that the increase this year can be linked with the dev­as­tat­ing impacts of the Covid-19 pan­demic in Italy.

Working in the groves to escape lock­down and increas­ingly con­cen­trat­ing on qual­ity was the all-Italian way of respond­ing to times of cri­sis like this one of the pan­demic,” Lauro said. Focussing on olive oil pro­duc­tion was a way for Italians to cope with the moment of cri­sis.

Meanwhile, across the Ionian Sea, Greece also saw an uptick in entries to the NYIOOC. Greek pro­duc­ers have sub­mit­ted 165 entries to the com­pe­ti­tion, an increase of 33 per­cent over last year.

NYIOOC panel leader and strate­gic con­sul­tant Kostas Liris said many Greek pro­duc­ers have opted to seek awards for their oils for sim­i­lar rea­sons as their Italian coun­ter­parts.

Everybody was under lock­down; you could only go out for work or to buy the essen­tials for liv­ing,” Liris told Olive Oil Times. What you could also do was to go to the field to cul­ti­vate, and this is what most of the peo­ple did.”


Kostas Liris

This occu­pa­tion gave them the oppor­tu­nity to start think­ing in a dif­fer­ent way about their pro­duc­tion, about their field and about their olive oil,” he added.

Producers from Greece have also reported supe­rior qual­ity har­vests this year. Liris said the dra­matic increase in webi­nars and their acces­si­bil­ity to pro­duc­ers likely also helped boost qual­ity.

Producers in Greece have also started to embrace online sales, Liris added, with many estab­lished brands sell­ing online for the first time.

New pro­duc­ers have started bot­tling, and old pro­duc­ers have dis­cov­ered the inter­net sales, but, to suc­ceed, you need to prove that what you are pro­duc­ing deserves the atten­tion of the cus­tomer,” he said.

The NYIOOC is well known as the biggest com­pe­ti­tion in the world,” Liris said. Beyond that, it is a com­pe­ti­tion that adds value all year long.”

Naturally, pro­duc­ers want to send their prod­uct to some­one that they trust, and that’s why we have had this increased num­ber of par­tic­i­pants in the NYIOOC,” he added.


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