The Cambodian importer of Tunisian extra virgin olive oil has entered its 1629 brand in the world’s largest olive oil quality contest since 2021.
I love the olive tree from the root to the leaf. And if I have a next life, I pray to get involved in this industry again.
While 1629 did not receive an award in 2021, Tiger Power earned a Gold Award in 2022. The company celebrated an even more triumphant showing in 2023, with two Gold awards for a medium-intensity Chetoui and organic medium Chemlali and a Silver Award for another medium Chemlali.
Tiger Kong, the company’s chief executive, said the awards have significantly impacted the Tiger Power team. “It’s something like a motivation from God to [us on] earth,” he told Olive Oil Times.See Also:Producer Profiles
“From being known by nobody to a well-known company, our brand is being recognized in Cambodia, Tunisia and around the world,” he added.
As with most success stories, the team behind Tiger Power has overcome plenty of obstacles on the way to their current success.
Kong said during the harvest, his team had to deal with the effects of climate change and macroeconomic difficulties, such as the cost of taking care of their trees and production.
“With climate change becoming a more persistent aspect of everyday life, the consequences for olive oil look set to grow worse,” Kong said. “At the same time, the economic crisis has lowered the power purchasing of olive oil consumers.”
Nonetheless, Kong is unperturbed by these challenges. “It was not too difficult to grow Tiger Power into a prestigious olive oil producer,” he said. “It’s a matter of maintaining good quality and improving what still needs to improve.”
Kong’s team has single-mindedly focused on the quality of their 1629 extra virgin olive oil brand. He said they do not compete on the cost of their product – with the world’s largest producers able to achieve far lower price points due to their economies of scale – only on quality. “We will never, ever lower our quality to win the market,” he said, which he added is a tough choice.
Tiger Power was founded in 2020, following a 2019 meeting in Cambodia between Kong and his Tunisian friend Habib Sassi. At the time, Sassi told Kong about Tunisia’s abundance of olive trees and high-quality olive oil. Kong had to go to see this promising prospect for himself.
“We flew together to Tunisia to look for a business opportunity,” Kong said. “We started the business together with the 1629 brand, referring to the age of the olive trees on Habib’s farm.”
Besides using olives from Sassi’s farm to create their award-winning oils, Tiger Power acquired an olive farm near the coastal town of Nabeul in northeastern Tunisia to grow more olives.
Kong said the company’s farm barely supplies enough olives to meet the demand for extra virgin olive oil from their consumers in Cambodia. “Our farm is very small, with 435 olive trees growing on 5.3 hectares,” he said.
“We outsource the olive crop in Tunisia and partner with an olive mill to produce quality extra virgin olive oil,” he said, adding that Tiger Power also buys extra virgin olive oil that meets its quality standards from other mills.
Soon after the company was founded, the awards started coming in. Since 2021, Kong said Tiger Power had won 12 international accolades.
The company has also rapidly expanded to import and supply more food products. “Besides olive oil, Tiger Power has other agricultural products like date sugar produced in Tunisia, taro chips and honey produced in Cambodia,” Kong said. “And 1629 (brand) chia seeds produced in Thailand.”
Kong is aware of each team member’s role in moving Tiger Power forward to where it is today.
“Everybody at Tiger Power plays an important role in our success,” he said, “from the farmers and truck drivers to office staff and management team.”
Kong also has big plans for Tiger Power. “We are planning to have a hotel resort on our olive farm and invite all the guests to enjoy fresh olives from our ancient trees,” he said.
“I love the olive tree from the root to the leaf,” he said. “And if I have a next life, I pray to get involved in this industry again.”