Jordan’s only award-winning producer at the 2022 NYIOOC reflects on the role of preserving the environment on quality and prepare for the post-Covid world.
Despite entering a record number of extra virgin olive oil samples into the competition, Al-Maida Agricultural was the only Jordanian producer to triumph at the 2022 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.
Located in the desert of central Jordan, the company earned a Gold Award for a medium Arbosana and two Silver Awards for a pair of medium Arbequinas.
Expansion is always in our plans, as well as continuing to develop the ecosystem of our farm and preserving our natural resources.
“This is the second year for us to enter and win at the NYIOOC,” said Amelia Bilbeisi, the co-owner of Al-Maida Agricultural. “As the only Jordanian producer to win this year, it makes us very proud, with the field becoming more competitive each year.”
According to International Olive Council data, Jordan produced 24,500 tons of olive oil in the 2021/22 crop year, slightly down from the previous harvest but narrowly above the rolling five-year average.See Also:Producer Profiles
While most of the country’s production is destined for domestic consumption, Bilbeisi said her company manages to export some of its olive oil. Winning awards at the NYIOOC helps the company gain name recognition in the international market.
“We are absolutely ecstatic with the awards we have achieved at the 2022 NYIOOC,” Bilbeisi said. “It is a huge reward and validation for our efforts, especially with the challenges of the last few years.”
“Winning at the NYIOOC definitely increases respect for our brand in the olive oil community and motivates us to pursue the ambitions we have in improving our craft,” she added.
For producers in the central Jordanian desert, the climate is always challenging, especially in the months leading up to the harvest.
“Changing environmental conditions are a challenge each season, and we adjust and adapt accordingly to what Mother Nature presents throughout the year,” Bilbeisi said.
Like many other NYIOOC-winning producers, Bilbeisi said the company’s holistic approach to olive oil production sets it apart from the competition.
“Our focus has always been quality and environment and improving both in harmony with each other,” she said. “We have high standards and will not produce anything we are not proud of.”
“As a producer that offers varieties not grown by other farmers in Jordan, we believe our passionate dedication to understanding our trees and terroir contribute to what makes our oil unique and different from similar cultivars grown in other parts of the world,” Bilbeisi added.
Bilbeisi said the previous harvest came as a reprieve despite the perennial challenges associated with olive oil production. The Covid-19 pandemic resulted in a difficult couple of years for producers and the country more broadly.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University coronavirus research center, more than 14,000 people died of Covid-related complications in Jordan, a country of roughly 11 million people.
While it was a strenuous time for the industry, Al-Maida Agriculture used the pandemic to plan for the future.
“During the pandemic, we took the opportunity to think clearly about our plans for the next five years and prioritize them,” Bilbeisi said. “We also planted a new variety, Oleana. Although we only produced a small amount for personal use.”
“We were highly encouraged by its potential and are excited to add it to our selections this coming harvest season,” she added.
However, this expansion will not come at the expense of the environment. Bilbeisi said her team would also continue to develop the ecosystem of their farm and preserve their natural resources.
“Expansion is always in our plans, as well as continuing to develop the ecosystem of our farm and preserving our natural resources,” Bilbeisi concluded. “As a family-run single estate, we love what we do and pass that passion on in our craft.”