Native Varieties Yield Award-Winning Season for Turkish Producers

Farmers and millers across Turkey overcame extreme weather conditions and a significant decline in yield to win 28 awards at the 2024 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.
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By Costas Vasilopoulos
May. 13, 2024 14:56 UTC

Turkey was no excep­tion to the rule of reduced olive oil yields across the Mediterranean in the 2023/24 crop year, with pro­duc­tion falling from a record yield of 421,000 tons of olive oil in 2022/23 to around 180,000 tons, below the five-year aver­age of 254,600 tons.

Echoing their coun­ter­parts in other Mediterranean-pro­duc­ing coun­tries, Turkish olive oil pro­duc­ers expressed their anguish over the low yields in an Olive Oil Times sur­vey on the 2023/24 har­vest last December.

These awards val­i­date our efforts to pro­duce high-qual­ity olive oils that show­case the unique fla­vors and char­ac­ter­is­tics of Turkish olive vari­eties.- Tuba Yilmaz, owner, Gaia Oliva

Poor weather con­di­tions and frosts at the end of March [2023] did a lot of dam­age to the olive flow­ers and their sub­se­quent pro­duc­tion,” pro­ducer Mustafa Safa Soydan said. For some elderly farm­ers, there has never been such a poor har­vest since 1990.”

Some of the coun­try’s pro­duc­ers also reported prob­lems with the qual­ity of their fresh olive oils, which occurred spo­rad­i­cally in some pro­duc­ing regions.

See Also:The best extra vir­gin olive oils from Turkey

In this con­text, Turkish extra vir­gin olive oil pro­duc­ers, bot­ters and exporters com­bined to win 29 awards (17 Gold and 11 Silver) from 52 entries of the industry’s most cov­eted awards at the 2024 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.

According to the Olive Oil Times World Ranking, they sub­mit­ted 56 fewer brands in this year’s con­test than in 2023 and suc­ceeded with 56 per­cent of their entries.

Twenty-four of the 29 win­ning extra vir­gin olive oil brands were crafted from endemic olive vari­eties, includ­ing Memecik, Ayvalik, Edremit, Trilye, Domat, Gemlik, Hanim Parmagi and Kilis.

Returning par­tic­i­pant Gaia Oliva suc­cess­fully adjusted to the season’s require­ments to cel­e­brate two Gold Awards at the NYIOOC this year for its epony­mous Memecik and Ayvalik early har­vest mono­va­ri­etals, extend­ing its win­ning streak to four years.

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The producers behind Gaia Oliva celebrated a fourth-straight yeart of success at the World Competition for native monovarietals. (Photo: Gaia Oliva)

Winning two Gold Awards at the 2024 NYIOOC is truly an honor for us and a tes­ta­ment to our team’s ded­i­ca­tion and hard work,” said owner Tuba Yilmaz. For our com­pany, these awards val­i­date our efforts to pro­duce high-qual­ity olive oils that show­case the unique fla­vors and char­ac­ter­is­tics of Turkish olive vari­eties.”

Yilmaz noted that the sea­son was far from sim­ple. High tem­per­a­tures and unex­pected rain­fall affected the har­vest and dis­rupted the estab­lished pat­terns in olive tree cul­ti­va­tion.

Shifts in tem­per­a­ture and pre­cip­i­ta­tion pat­terns have led to unpre­dictable grow­ing sea­sons,” she said. Despite these adver­si­ties, our team demon­strated remark­able resilience and exper­tise. Through care­ful plan­ning and hard work, we were able to adapt to chang­ing con­di­tions and mit­i­gate the effects of adverse weather. “

Eminem’s Olive Oil, another return­ing entrant to the World Competition from Turkey’s Muğla province, once again mea­sured up to the com­pe­ti­tion, earn­ing a Gold Award for its organic Oro di Milas brand from Memecik olives.

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Oro di Milas overcame a range of challenges to produce ten tons of extra virign olive oil in the 2023/24 crop year. (Photo: Eminem’s Olive Oil)

We feel hon­ored to have been given this recog­ni­tion, espe­cially with the dif­fi­cul­ties in 2023,” co-owner Mark Colin said.

Colin also cited numer­ous chal­lenges that ham­pered the 2023/24 har­vest, includ­ing weather extremes, labor short­ages and the impact of the olive fruit fly.

In the company’s com­pe­ti­tion debut at the 2023 NYIOOC, Eminem’s Olive Oil won two Gold Awards for a pair of organic medium Memecik mono­va­ri­etals.

Devotion to pro­duc­ing high-qual­ity olive oil was the dri­ving force behind the Gold Award won by Garisar for its epony­mous Arbequina mono­va­ri­etal, repeat­ing its suc­cess from last year’s edi­tion of the World Competition.

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We are proud that our Arbequina olive oil won a Gold Award at the 2024 NYIOOC,” said Davut Ayvaz, the company’s exec­u­tive man­ager. This suc­cess proves that our qual­ity stan­dards, which we have worked devot­edly for years, have been appre­ci­ated once again.”

It’s been a dif­fi­cult sea­son,” Ayvaz added. It was very impor­tant for us to see once again how valu­able our efforts and ded­i­ca­tion were, no mat­ter how adverse the sea­sonal con­di­tions were. We have full con­fi­dence that we will win many more awards.”

The vast major­ity of the country’s win­ning pro­duc­ers came from the Aegean coast of west­ern Anatolia, where a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of the country’s olive oil is pro­duced, includ­ing Manisa province.

I am very happy and hon­ored to receive an award at the NYIOOC this year, for the sec­ond time in a row,” said Zeynep Belger, the female entre­pre­neur behind Zayto, after join­ing the elite list of win­ners at the 2024 NYIOOC.

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Despite late-spring rain damaging the olive trees as they were flowering, Zayto achieved award-winning quality at the 2024 NYIOOC. (Photo: Zayto)

Zayto won a Gold Award for its Zayto Saittai robust mono­va­ri­etal. The pro­ducer sources her olives from the Gemlik vari­ety (also known as Trilye) in Manisa, one of the country’s main olive oil-pro­duc­ing regions.

With their trees close to the majes­tic Dardanelles straits in north­west­ern Turkey, True Olive over­came the drought to win its first-ever World Competition acco­lade, a Silver Award for its Private Reserve brand from Edremit olives.

The pro­ducer also had to sur­vive a wild­fire that rav­aged its land a decade ago, nur­tur­ing and regen­er­at­ing its burnt olive trees to pro­duce high-qual­ity olive oil.

Winning is an inde­scrib­able joy for all of us,” said co-owner Nicole Babaoglu. It is the best reward for all the hard work dur­ing this chal­leng­ing year. The drought posed a sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenge this har­vest, but work­ing together, we were still able to make the best of the sit­u­a­tion.”

Claiming the Silver Award inspires a deter­mi­na­tion to bring home Gold in 2025,” she added.


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