Despite having its worst harvest in a decade, Israeli producers earned a record-high number of awards at the World Competition.
Part of our continuing special coverage of the 2022 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.
In the tenth edition of the world’s largest olive oil quality competition, producers in Israel earned six awards from nine entries, surpassing last year’s record showing in both.
“The work throughout the year, the effort, thinking and activities we’ve done coalesce into a single moment,” she added. “The winning moment, it’s a wonderful feeling. This is where you know you did something good and right.”See Also:The Best Olive Oils from Israel
The producer earned the awards for a pair of medium blends, its Heart Notes and Sunrise Early Harvest brands. “Knowing that the oil you’re producing is included among the best oils in the world is exciting, time and time again,” Ashkenazi said.
The historic success of Israeli producers in the competition came despite Israel the worst harvest of the past decade.
According to International Olive Council data, Israel produced just 12,000 tons of olive oil in the 2021/22 crop year, nearly 29 percent below the rolling five-year average.
“The 2021 harvest in Israel was a poor one due to an unseasonal winter with dry conditions and higher than average high temperatures,” said Ido Tamir, owner of Tamir Farm, which earned a Silver Award for its Ptora Midnight brand, a medium Picholine blend.
“This resulted in a low volume of olive oil production all over the country,” he told Olive Oil Times. “Facing difficult climate conditions has forced us to put more effort into perfecting the pick of the fruit for our premium olive oil series.”
“This year, more than ever, I’m proud to say that despite the challenging circumstances, we managed to maintain our professional standards, producing a phenomenal olive oil, which won this award,” Tamir added.
Tamir knows the value of consistently producing high-quality extra virgin olive oil. His farm was the first Israeli producer to earn an award from the Wold Competition in 2015.
“We’re happy to maintain such consistency, sending an award-winning olive oil each year,” he said.
Tamir believes that winning in the competition improves the value of their brand in the international market.
He attributed this success to many factors, including the unique region where the farms are located that allows them to produce a variety of olives. In addition, having complete control over the harvesting is another factor enabling them to produce high-quality olive oil.
“We’ll keep working hard to produce premium Israeli extra virgin olive oil that stands in line with the world’s best olive oil brands,” he said. “We’ve planted more trees, enlarging our olive groves, and we’re looking forward to another year of hard work and great success.”
Ashkenazi of BVS Jerusalem Olive Oil attributed her company’s success to a long and thoughtful process of what their customers want from extra virgin olive oil.
“Our olive oil is different from other brands in quality and appearance,” she said. “We put a lot of thought into the preparation of the olive oil to precisely target the palate of the consumers and customers looking for quality and, of course, designing the appropriate packaging. It’s our distinction compared to other brands”.
Ashkenazi believes that the global recognition of her brand is growing because of its performance in the NYIOOC.
“No doubt that winning exposes our brand to new target audiences worldwide,” she said.
Even the sustained social and economic difficulties created by the Covid-19 pandemic could not shake the brand’s spirit and only gave more opportunities to build it through the tough time.
“We had to be extremely creative and recalculate our direction, but that period taught us to change our habits,” Ashkenazi said.
Situated in northern Israel, just west of the Sea of Galilee, the producers behind Sindyanna of Galilee celebrated a second consecutive successful season at the NYIOOC.
“Winning an award at the NYIOOC is the most important professional challenge for the team of Sindyanna,” Hadas Lahav, the group’s chief executive, told Olive Oil Times. “Winning an award two years in a row is the result of a huge effort and a lot of investment in training and improving the entire production chain.”
“You win not because you are stronger, richer, or bigger but because you produced such a high-quality olive oil that is loved by everyone everywhere in the world,” she added.
For Hadas, winning at the NYIOOC validates her team’s project and provides excellent international exposure to potential customers and visitors.
“We are happy to see the number of visitors steadily growing,” she said. “We hope our international recognition and especially the award from the NYIOOC will help us attract more visitors and strengthen the association’s social impact and economic stability.”
While these awards demonstrate that their olive oil production is top-notch, Hadas said olive oil was far from the only thing on her mind. The main goal is to promote sustainable development, cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians and create good jobs for local women.
“With the money earned from selling the olive oil, the association invests in environmental projects, planting olive trees, helping farmers become certified fair-trade and organic and installing irrigation in their traditional groves,” she said.
“We joined the European Union project ARTOLIO and installed the first irrigation system in the organic olive groves of the Hussein family in Deir Hanna valley,” Hadas added.
Sindyanna of Galilee also recently started to develop some urban agriculture using hydroponics. “The participants are Arab women from our community and students in local kindergartens and schools,” she said.
“I’m so thrilled to reach this goal,” Nimrod Azulay, the co-owner of KeremZait, told Olive Oil Times. “Our farm is inspired by having such ambitious dreams, such as winning NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition Gold Awards, then putting in the hard work to achieve them.”
“It shows the quality of our product and emphasizes the success of our strategy to produce olive oil end-to-end,” he added.
Azulay attributed his success to their high quality and cutting-edge technology and said the award would open the doors to great opportunities in the market.
“For us, it creates a clear direction and path for the coming years to continue and produce these top-end products while continuing to grow the business and improve our technology,” he said.
While the Covid-19 pandemic created plenty of challenges for producers globally, Azulay said it demonstrated his company’s resilience in the face of adversity.
“While there was a pandemic, we kept developing and maintaining our farm – we used this time to focus on a new business strategy to monetize the business and ensure business health,” he said.
“The pandemic period showed us the strength of our strategy across multiple dimensions,” Azulay concluded. “In the near future, we plan to grow our business, open new markets and continue to ensure top-quality products.”