East Asian Producers Show Award-Winning Quality on World Stage

Producers from China and Japan combined to earn ten awards at the 2024 World Olive Oil Competition.

Olive Times is working to promote economic development in rural central China through olive cultivation and olive oil production. (Photo: Olive Times)
By Paolo DeAndreis
May. 28, 2024 12:07 UTC
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Olive Times is working to promote economic development in rural central China through olive cultivation and olive oil production. (Photo: Olive Times)

Every year, pro­duc­ers from non-tra­di­tional olive-grow­ing regions take advan­tage of the spot­light pro­vided by inter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tions to demon­strate that high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil is not solely the domain of the Mediterranean basin.

Farmers and millers from East Asia once again stepped into the spot­light, with pro­duc­ers from China and Japan com­bin­ing to earn ten awards from 12 entries at the 2024 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.

We are very proud of this result. Our goal is to com­bine olive oil with Japanese culi­nary tra­di­tions. We aim to con­tinue spread­ing Japanese-style olive cul­ture.- Ryhoei Mineo, CEO, Mineo Nouen Itonamisha

Two pro­duc­ers from cen­tral China com­bined to earn three awards from four at this year’s com­pe­ti­tion.

Among them was Olive Times, which earned a third con­sec­u­tive Silver Award for its Whispering Flowers brand, a del­i­cate Ezhi‑8 mono­va­ri­etal.

See Also:2024 World Competition cov­er­age

We are thrilled to win again,” said Jane Gong, founder of Olive Times. Looking ahead, we hope to scale up and secure a Gold Award next year.”

Whispering Flowers is pro­duced by Shanghai Olive Light Biotechnology for Olive Times, a com­mu­nity ini­tia­tive to alle­vi­ate poverty in Lognan, a dis­trict in the cen­tral Chinese province of Gangsu.

Olive trees were intro­duced to Longnan in 1975 to com­bat soil ero­sion but faced chal­lenges due to low demand and insuf­fi­cient brand­ing and tech­no­log­i­cal sup­port, result­ing in lim­ited eco­nomic ben­e­fits for local farm­ers,” Gong said.

However, a renewed inter­est in olive oil health ben­e­fits in large cities revi­tal­ized the indus­try and spurred the Olive Times project.

The Olive Times project is expand­ing its olive milling facil­i­ties and diver­si­fy­ing its prod­uct range to meet the mar­ket’s needs.

We are plan­ning to develop new prod­ucts based on olive oil. To achieve this, we need to increase our resources,” Gong said.

the-best-olive-oils-competitions-production-asia-east-asian-producers-show-awardwinning-quality-on-world-stage-olive-oil-times

Maedaya Olive overcame extreme temperature swings to earn a Gold Award for a Mission monovarietal. (Photo: Maedaya Olive)

While the region has been spared sig­nif­i­cant weather impacts on olive oil pro­duc­tion in the last two years, future chal­lenges may arise from mar­ket con­di­tions.

One of the dif­fi­cul­ties we face is the ris­ing price of olive oil, which could affect over­all demand,” Gong said.

This sea­son’s suc­cesses for Chinese pro­duc­ers also included a Gold and Silver Award for Mianning Peaktop Agriculture Technology in Liangshan, Sichuan, which bor­ders Gansu province to the south.

Peaktop is the brain­child of its chair­man, Lin Chunfu, who has been plant­ing Arbequina, Koroneiki and Arbosana olive trees since 2011.

Chunfu’s estate expanded olive pro­duc­tion in the fol­low­ing years and now man­ages nearly 2,000 hectares of olive trees, mak­ing the com­pany China’s largest olive oil pro­ducer.

While the three Mediterranean olive tree cul­ti­vars remain the focus of its pro­duc­tion, the com­pany is also exper­i­ment­ing with 21 other vari­eties.

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Peaktop earned the Gold Award for its Mutual Beauty brand, an organic medium-inten­sity Koroneiki, and a Silver Award for its Aiolio brand, another organic medium Koroneiki.

On the other side of the East China Sea, farm­ers and millers in Japan com­bined to earn seven awards from eight entries at the World Competition.

The Japanese win­ners came from across the coun­try and included long-time NYIOOC par­tic­i­pants and a few pro­duc­ers cel­e­brat­ing debut vic­to­ries.

See Also:The best extra vir­gin olive oils from Japan

In its NYIOOC debut, Harvest Farm won a Gold Award for its Virgin Valley brand, a blend of Italian-ori­gin cul­ti­vars includ­ing Frantoio, Pendolino, Leccino and Taggiasca.

This world-class olive oil comes from a sus­tain­able project ini­tially con­ceived to revi­tal­ize a neglected area.

Eight years ago, we worked hard to reclaim aban­doned farm­land that had reverted to for­est and con­vert it into an olive grove,” said Yoshinori Shikamoto, the com­pa­ny’s founder.

the-best-olive-oils-competitions-production-asia-east-asian-producers-show-awardwinning-quality-on-world-stage-olive-oil-times

Harvest Farm founder Yoshinori Shikamoto celebrated a debut award at the World Competition for a blend made from Italian varieties. (Photo: Harvest Farm)

We are very pleased to receive such a pres­ti­gious award,” he added. This recog­ni­tion encour­ages us to con­tinue pro­duc­ing high-qual­ity olive oil.”

Harvest Farm cul­ti­vates 17,000 Frantoio, Leccino, Pendolino and Taggiasca olive trees on Awaji Island, near Osaka in cen­tral Japan.

The 2023/24 crop year yielded a fruit­ful har­vest. We have high hopes for the new sea­son as well, as the flow­er­ing is abun­dant,” Shikamoto said.

To min­i­mize the use of pes­ti­cides, we under­take sig­nif­i­cant efforts, such as thor­oughly mow­ing the grass to reduce pest oppor­tu­ni­ties,” he added.

One of the most labor-inten­sive tasks on the farm is com­bat­ing the olive anoplophora bee­tle.

It is a native insect here in Japan. Its lar­vae can dam­age the trunks of the olive trees,” Shikamoto said. It is a chal­leng­ing task to iden­tify and remove all of them from the trees. If we don’t, the trees could wither. Therefore, every tree is inspected, and any traces of lar­vae are removed.”

Not far from Awaji, on the Ushimado coast, Nippon Olive Company tri­umphed once again at the NYIOOC, win­ning two Gold Awards for its Ushimado and Ushimado Superior brands.

the-best-olive-oils-competitions-production-asia-east-asian-producers-show-awardwinning-quality-on-world-stage-olive-oil-times

Nippon Olive Company does well from Ushimado’s Mediterranean climate to establish a legacy of success at the NYIOOC. (Photo: Nippon Olive Company)

Locals com­pare our region to the Aegean Sea, a trib­ute to a cli­mate that closely resem­bles the Mediterranean,” said Yasuhiro Yoshida, the company’s pro­duc­tion direc­tor.

Nippon Olive Company sources its olive oils from Tortosa, Spain, and its ten-hectare olive tree groves in Ushimado Gardens.

Its nurs­eries sup­ply olive trees to farm­ers and pri­vate cit­i­zens in Japan. The two award-win­ning olive oils are blends of Spanish cul­ti­vars, includ­ing Lucca, Mission, Nevadillo Blanco, Manzanillo, and Arbequina.

Since 2019, Nippon Olive Company has earned ten awards at the World Competition, nine of which were Gold Awards.

Further south, Mineo Nouen Itonamisha in Etajima, Hiroshima pre­fec­ture, won a Gold Award and Silver Award for its Etajima Strong brand, a blend with dis­tinc­tive green tea notes, and its Lucca mono­va­ri­etal.

We are very proud of this result. Our goal is to com­bine olive oil with Japanese culi­nary tra­di­tions,” said Ryhoei Mineo, the com­pa­ny’s chief exec­u­tive. We aim to con­tinue spread­ing Japanese-style olive cul­ture.”

Almost 600 kilo­me­ters away, sit­u­ated in the shadow of Mt. Fuji, Crea Farm cel­e­brated win­ning a Gold Award for its Coratina mono­va­ri­etal, the company’s fifth World Competition award since 2019.

Winning an award at the NYIOOC is a tes­ta­ment to the hard work put in through­out the sea­son. We take pride in being eval­u­ated for qual­ity at this stage,” said Yasuko Nishimura, the company’s chief exec­u­tive.

the-best-olive-oils-competitions-production-asia-east-asian-producers-show-awardwinning-quality-on-world-stage-olive-oil-times

As production expands, the challenge for Crea Farm is to continue maintaining high quality standards. (Photo: Crea Farm)

As the company’s olive groves have matured, the amount of olives they yield has expanded. In the 2023/24 crop year, the com­pany har­vested 300 tons of olives, which Nishimura said brings oppor­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges.

We con­duct 100 per­cent screen­ing in the seg­re­ga­tion process, and we press the olives within 24 hours of har­vest, but we con­sider stream­lin­ing the process chal­leng­ing,” she said.

Not far from Crea Farm, in Yamanashi pre­fec­ture, Fuefuki Maedaya Olive made its debut at the NYIOOC and won a Gold Award.

We are thrilled by this win,” said founder Keisuke Maeda. By par­tic­i­pat­ing in the NYIOOC, we wanted the best olive oil tasters in the world to eval­u­ate our prod­uct. We needed their assess­ment to under­stand the qual­ity we have achieved.”

Olive grow­ing is a recent devel­op­ment in the region, and the com­pany is explor­ing the best meth­ods to counter the chal­leng­ing cli­mate.

In the com­ing years, more olive tree cul­ti­vars will be planted, and Maeda hopes to expand the cul­ture of award-win­ning olive oil pro­duc­tion.


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