With 90 awards earned at the 2023 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition, producers from Greece reaffirmed their devotion to quality.
Once again, Greek olive oil producers, bottlers and exporters achieved outstanding results in the NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.
Olive oil brands from Greece won 90 awards (44 Gold and 46 Silver) at the 2023 NYIOOC, an impressive tally second only to the record-high 99 medals the country earned in 2021.
We view this award as a justification and a reward for our efforts to introduce a high-added value product to a global market that is constantly evolving.
Greece ranked fourth in the competition among other producing countries this year, indicating the determination of Greek producers to achieve quality.
The country enjoyed an abundant production of around 330,000 tons of olive oil in the 2022/23 crop year. Harvest, however, was not unobstructed, with the lack of workers, the rising production costs, and the fruit fly emerging as a threat in some areas of the country, keeping growers and producers occupied throughout the harvest.See Also:The Best EVOOs From Greece
Nevertheless, the bountiful country’s olive oil production, combined with the wider global conjuncture, resulted in a favorable harvest season for the sector in Greece, with producer prices exceeding €6.00 for a kilogram of extra virgin olive oil.
“What will be remembered from this [crop] year is that we had a good production with unprecedentedly high [producer] prices, mainly due to the concurrence of the war [in Ukraine] and the dramatic rise in the prices of seed oils,” said Manolis Yiannoulis, head of EDOE, the national interprofessional olive oil association.
“These factors helped Greek olive oil, and in combination with the low Spanish production, led to these high prices.”
Devotion and persistence in producing high-quality olive oil made returning entrant Mediterre Eurofood a big winner among Greek participants at the eleventh edition of the World Competition: the company from western Peloponnese earned a total of five awards (two Gold and three Silver) for their line of extra virgin olive oils made from Koroneiki and Kolireiki olives.
“The NYIOOC is, without doubt, the greatest international extra virgin olive oil competition,” Konstantinos Papadopoulos, the chief executive of Mediterre Eurofood, told Olive Oil Times.
“Being awarded in this contest every year since 2015 is certainly an honor and a great success,” he added. “We believe that our careful and hard work combined with the continuous scientific research of our team of experts is reflected in our awards.”
Papadopoulos also noted that rising global olive oil prices due to the reduced Spanish production are not transient, adding that their focus is on quality now more than ever.
“[The] upward trend in the extra virgin olive oil prices is expected to continue into next year,” he said. “As a consequence, the risk of otherwise permissible marketing of blends of olive oil with seed oils to gain a cost advantage is increasing.”
“However, extra virgin olive oil has been proven to shield and enhance our health; therefore, our commitment is to continue creating honest products of the highest quality with respect for our staff, the producers and the environment,” Papadopoulos added.
Based in northern Makri, where olive trees aged thousands of years thrive, Alexandros Olive Mill once again measured up to the requirements of the competition earning a Silver Award for its Alexandros Special Edition brand.
“We are extremely happy that our olive oil has again been awarded at the greatest olive oil competition in the world,” owner Alexandros Voukoureslis told Olive Oil Times.
Voukoureslis described a change in the company’s tactics this year to harvest the olives promptly.
“The 2022/23 crop year was difficult with drought and a lack of laborers,” he said. “Nevertheless, we harvested 3 million kilograms of olives from our groves, starting operations in early October.”
“It was a race against time, harvesting and milling day after day because we knew we would have problems with quality if the harvest were delayed,” Voukoureslis added. “This way, we achieved a good production both in terms of quantity and quality.”
Alexandros Olive Mill also received awards at the NYIOOC in 2020 and 2021. The producer noted that the company refrained from participating in the competition last year since the adverse weather severely hampered olive oil production in Makri.
Producers from olive oil-producing Greek islands also excelled in the World Olive Oil Competition.
Sigri from Lesbos, Kallas Natural Products from Rhodes and Silvergreen from Crete, the backbone of the Greek olive oil industry and the Peloponnese, received awards in the world’s largest olive oil quality contest.
“A second straight Gold Award at the NYIOOC makes us really proud,” cousins Andreas and Emmanuel Vantarakis, the owners of Silvergreen, told Olive Oil Times. “It is a recognition of our efforts to produce a unique olive oil that is health-benefiting, sustainably produced and delicious.”
Silvergreen received a Gold Award at the 2023 NYIOOC for Efkrato olive oil, a medium monovarietal made from the local Tsounati variety.
“Our Efkrato extra virgin olive oil is produced exclusively from Tsounati, an ancient Cretan variety,” the two cousins added. “It is fair to say that it is the optimized version of the same pure olive oil we grew up with.”
The Vantarakis cousins added that they apply cultivation methods even stricter than the principles of organic farming and continuously experiment with biodynamic cultivation practices.
“We love our small olive groves and treat them like small gardens,” they said. “In return, we enjoy not only the olive fruits and the exceptional olive oil that comes from them but also snails — a famous Cretan delicacy — wild asparagus, herbs, figs, native capers and others.”
First-time entrants from Greece also reached the podium at the 2023 NYIOOC.
A smooth and unwrinkled harvest culminated with a Silver Award at the World Competition for Polymenakos Maxouli from the village of Lagio, south of Sparta, in Laconia.
“We have been in the olive oil business since 1999, and this has been the best crop year ever since,” owner Dimitris Polymenakos told Olive Oil Times.
“We are extremely thrilled that our 300 Organic olive oil won a Silver Award,” he added. “It rewards our team’s effort and hard work over the years.”
Ranis from the region of Achaea in the Peloponnese earned a Gold Award for the Castello del Barone Collector’s Edition monovarietal, a high-polyphenol organic extra virgin made from early harvested olives of the Patrini variety (also known as Koutsourelia).
“We are so delighted with the result in our first attempt at the competition,” owner and agronomist Spiridon Anagnostopoulos told Olive Oil Times.
The olives are picked from century-old olive trees in mid-September each year while still green and processed immediately. Each crimson bottle of the Castello del Barone extra virgin olive oil releases aromas of fresh herbs and tomato perceivable to the nose immediately after opening.
“We view this award as a justification and a reward for our efforts to introduce a high-added value product to a global market that is constantly evolving,” Anagnostopoulos said, acknowledging at the same time that climate change is the biggest threat to olive farming in the area.
“From my side as a technical agronomist specializing in olive cultivation, I will continue the effort at an increased pace, adapting my expertise to the increasing challenges and difficulties presented in olive cultivation due to climate change,” he concluded.