Greek Producers Celebrate Successful Finish to Historically Low Harvest

Farmers and millers in Greece earned 56 awards at the 2024 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition after the worst harvest in a decade.
Greek producers earned 56 awards from 108 entries at the 2024 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition. (Photo: Skoutari)
By Costas Vasilopoulos
May. 28, 2024 11:25 UTC

This year’s dis­ap­point­ing har­vest in Greece did not stop the country’s olive grow­ers and millers from craft­ing some of the world’s best extra vir­gin olive oils.

Beating the odds, Greek pro­duc­ers rose to the occa­sion and won 56 awards (26 Gold and 30 Silver Awards) from 108 entries at the 2024 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.

Greek olive oil pro­duc­tion fell below 150,000 tons in the 2023/24 crop year, a record low and less than half of last year’s 340,000 tons.

See Also:The best extra vir­gin olive oil from Greece

Farmers and millers cited erratic weather, which dis­rupted the estab­lished pat­tern of olive cul­ti­va­tion in the coun­try, and wide­spread olive fruit fly infes­ta­tions as the main rea­sons for the decrease in quan­tity and, in some cases, qual­ity.

This past year was the most chal­leng­ing we’ve ever faced,” said Cretan pro­ducer Panagiotis Tsiriotakis of Acropolis Organics, which won two Gold Awards for Koroneiki mono­va­ri­etals.

Unlike my grand­fa­ther’s gen­er­a­tion, when the weather was reli­able and con­sis­tent, we’ve been deal­ing with weather pat­tern shifts like never before,“ he added.

Producers from Crete and the Peloponnese penin­sula, the back­bone of the Greek olive oil indus­try, claimed the lion’s share of acco­lades at this year’s NYIOOC with 32 awards.

AMG Karabelas from the peninsula’s Ilia region came through the adverse weather that dom­i­nated the region this year to cel­e­brate two Gold Awards and a Silver Silver Award at the Word Competition.


High temperatures during the spring and wet weather throughout the harvest were among the challenges faced by AMG Karabelas to acheive award-winning quality. (Photo: AMG Karabelas)

Alexis Karabelas said irreg­u­lar weather con­di­tions, includ­ing exces­sive rain in the spring and warm weather at har­vest time, forced the com­pany to change tac­tics and once again achieve its high qual­ity stan­dards.

We had to carry out fre­quent tests to achieve the desired results,“ he said. Having done it this year, we believe we will also be able to win in the years to come.”

The Peloponnesian pro­ducer earned two Gold Awards for the Laurel & Flame Fresh, a Tsabidoelia mono­va­ri­etal, and its Olympia PGI blend for the third year in a row. The company’s Myths of Olympia was also awarded.

We are also delighted because the Myths of Ancient Olympia, a Koroneiki extra vir­gin olive oil that we sub­mit­ted to the NYIOOC for the first time, won a Silver Award in the com­pe­ti­tion,” Karabelas said.

On Crete, where some of the island’s pro­duc­ing areas expe­ri­enced a dra­matic drop of 60 to 70 per­cent in olive oil pro­duc­tion, return­ing entrants Skoutari and Cretan Harvest over­came a demand­ing har­vest to win awards at this year’s NYIOOC.

Situated on oppo­site sides of the island – Skoutari on the east­ern side close to Lasithi and Cretan Harvest on the west­ern side near Chania – both pro­duc­ers grap­pled with the island’s dry weather and olive pests dur­ing the har­vest.


After a challenging 2023/24 crop year, producers said the situation ahead of 2024/25 looks to be more promising. (Photo: Cretan Harvest)

The weather has become unpre­dictable, with high winds and warm weather in April and May that severely impact the olive fruit set­ting process,” Maria Sgourou of Skoutari said. Apart from the man­i­fes­ta­tions of the fruit fly, the 2023/24 crop year was also very dry. Drought is one of our major con­cerns in east­ern Crete.”

However, the Gold Award that Skoutari won for the fourth con­sec­u­tive year has tremen­dously helped ease the bur­den of the chal­leng­ing har­vest.


Winning the award has filled us with pride in our dynamic course but also with grat­i­tude for our fel­low trav­el­ers,” Sgourou said. Faithful to our com­mit­ment to offer the high­est qual­ity, we con­tinue our effort with even greater per­sis­tence.”

For its part, Cretan Harvest cel­e­brated a Silver Award in the com­pe­ti­tion for a del­i­cate Koroneiki extra vir­gin olive oil, albeit with some chal­lenges from the ardu­ous 2023/24 crop year.

The sea­son was very demand­ing, with the fruit fly and the gloeospo­rium impact­ing the quan­tity and qual­ity of the Cretan olive oils,” owner Stamatis Madariotakis said. However, the NYIOOC award rec­og­nizes our hard work to main­tain our high stan­dards in olive oil pro­duc­tion.”

Madariotakis added that the 2024/25 har­vest looks promis­ing, with the olive tree flow­ers devel­op­ing well.

Other experts expect an improved olive oil yield in Greece in 2024/25, pro­vided the olive fruit set­ting con­tin­ues unob­structed.

A strong fruit­ing is clearly vis­i­ble on olive trees across the coun­try, bring­ing the next olive oil har­vest some­where between 200,000 and 220,000 tons,” olive oil taster and qual­ity con­sul­tant Vasilios Frantzolas said.

However, the olive blos­soms dry­ing up in some areas due to the intense drought, com­bined with the absence of the required chill hours last win­ter, should make us cau­tious,” he added. We should have a bet­ter pic­ture of the next olive oil crop by mid-June.”

On Lesbos, Greece’s third-largest island and another one of the country’s tra­di­tional olive oil-pro­duc­ing regions, pro­duc­tion nose­dived to 3,000 tons this sea­son from more than 10,000 tons in 2022/23.


Falcon tends to 40,000 olive trees of 12 varieties on the island of Lesbos. (Photo: Falcon)

Despite the island’s gloomy crop, Falcon from Sigri on the island’s west­ern coast tri­umphed with three Gold Awards, repeat­ing last year’s suc­cess at the World Competition.

It is so impor­tant to be awarded at the pres­ti­gious New York com­pe­ti­tion after such a dif­fi­cult year,” said Nana Kanakaki, the per­son in charge of the company’s olive oil sec­tion. The three Gold Awards at the 2024 NYIOOC are the nat­ural con­tin­u­a­tion of the awards Falcon received last year.”

The com­pany has trans­formed a pre­vi­ously deserted area into a vast grove of 40,000 olive trees of no less than 12 dif­fer­ent olive cul­ti­vars, includ­ing the indige­nous Adramytini and Kolovi vari­eties.

Falcon earned its World Competition awards for three mono­va­ri­etals from Kalamon, Kolovi and Adramytini olives.

Kanakaki said that the mild win­ter and the fruit fly, which made its pres­ence felt quite early on the island, called for uncon­ven­tional approaches to olive oil pro­duc­tion.

To avoid any seri­ous impact on our olive oils, we started har­vest­ing in late August to craft our early-har­vested, high-polyphe­nol extra vir­gin olive oil,” she said. We are con­stantly striv­ing to pro­mote our olive oil through a dif­fer­ent approach in terms of qual­ity and sus­tain­abil­ity, such as the min­i­mal use of water and the exclu­sion of atmos­pheric oxy­gen from the pro­duc­tion process to achieve the high­est qual­ity.”

We are so happy that our efforts and hard work are being rec­og­nized over time,” Kanakaki con­cluded.


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