Tunisian Producers Celebrate Victory After Season Plagued by Drought

Producers overcame the country’s severe drought and macroeconomic difficulties to win 27 awards at the World Competition.

Award-winning producer Tiger Kong
By Lisa Anderson
May. 4, 2023 00:41 UTC
Award-winning producer Tiger Kong

Part of our con­tin­u­ing spe­cial cov­er­age of the 2023 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.

Tunisian pro­duc­ers have won 27 awards — 13 Golds and 14 Silvers — at the NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition, their third-high­est suc­cess rate at the con­test.

The North African coun­try achieved this vic­tory despite a mediocre har­vest, which ear­lier this year was esti­mated to reach 180,000 tons. The yield was much lower than the 240,000 tons of olive oil they pro­duced in the 2021/22 crop year.

It’s an incred­i­ble feel­ing to have my hard work and ded­i­ca­tion rec­og­nized on a global scale.- Salah Ben Ayed, owner, Domaine Adonis

This drop was due to the long-run­ning drought plagu­ing the North African country’s cen­tral and south­ern regions, where most of the large olive farms are located. Consequent high water prices for irri­ga­tion have had a knock-on effect, caus­ing an ongo­ing increase in pro­duc­tion costs.

The chief exec­u­tive of the coun­try’s National Olive Oil Office (ONH), Hamed Daly Hassen, said win­ning these awards at the NYIOOC is impor­tant for the inter­na­tional recog­ni­tion of Tunisian olive oil’s high qual­ity.

See Also:The Best EVOO From Tunisia

Winning awards for Tunisian extra vir­gin olive oil at inter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tions is a way to pro­mote it to buy­ers and con­sumers on inter­na­tional mar­kets,” he told Olive Oil Times.

Hassen said brand aware­ness dri­ves pref­er­ence for a par­tic­u­lar oil and loy­alty toward it. He said con­sumers esteem award-win­ning extra vir­gin olive oils higher in terms of safety and nutri­tional value, which makes win­ning awards at the NYIOOC impor­tant for mar­ket­ing Tunisian oils inter­na­tion­ally.

He empha­sized that tech­ni­cal sup­port by the ONH is cru­cial for win­ning awards at local and inter­na­tional well-rec­og­nized com­pe­ti­tions and pro­mot­ing Tunisian olive oil. He added that win­ning awards has helped to grow exports, with 80 per­cent of the country’s olive oil des­tined to be shipped abroad.

Hassen said that dur­ing 2021/22, Tunisia exported 30,000 tons of olive oil to 62 coun­tries and that exports to the United States grew by 14 per­cent from 2006 to 2022 and 5 per­cent to Canada in the same period.

We also added France, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Japan, which have become major des­ti­na­tions of Tunisian olive oil in recent years,” he said.

Hassen added that award-win­ning Tunisian extra vir­gin olive oils are sold in smaller or niche mar­kets and can reach higher prices.

Although the win­ners are, for the most part, olive oil exporters, their oil is also sold in the domes­tic mar­ket,” he said. Local con­sumers’ per­cep­tion of these award-win­ning oils is very pos­i­tive, which helps to improve the image of brands and sales vol­ume.”

Among the win­ners at the world’s largest olive oil qual­ity com­pe­ti­tion was Domaine Adonis from north­west­ern Tunisia, which earned four Gold Awards for its organic extra vir­gin olive oils. The pro­ducer won awards for its medium-inten­sity Arbosana, Chemlali, Chetoui and Koroneiki.


(Photo: Domaine Adonis)

I feel ecsta­tic and over­whelmed with joy after win­ning the inter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion and receiv­ing top rat­ings for my olive oil,” owner Salah Ben Ayed told Olive Oil Times. It’s an incred­i­ble feel­ing to have my hard work and ded­i­ca­tion rec­og­nized on a global scale. The win has given me a sense of val­i­da­tion and con­fi­dence in my abil­i­ties as an olive oil pro­ducer, and I am eager to con­tinue improv­ing and cre­at­ing the best prod­ucts pos­si­ble.”

I am extremely proud of my farm, my team and the recog­ni­tion we have received for win­ning these inter­na­tional olive oil com­pe­ti­tions,” he added. More impor­tantly, I am proud to be from Tunisia, a coun­try that pro­duces some of the world’s most excep­tional olive oils.”

Ben Ayed attrib­uted the suc­cess of his oils to the land, its rich soil and the care and hard work he puts into each of his trees.


The soil is the foun­da­tion of my farm, and I make sure that it is always nour­ished and healthy,” he said. I also take great care to shield my trees from pests, dis­eases and harsh weather con­di­tions.”

I over­see the prun­ing, water­ing, and har­vest­ing of each tree, ensur­ing that only the best olives are selected for my oil,” Ben Ayed added. The result is an amaz­ing olive oil burst­ing with fla­vor and aroma.”

He said cli­mate change had brought unpre­dictable changes in tem­per­a­ture and lack of rain­fall, mak­ing it increas­ingly dif­fi­cult to care for his olive trees in recent years.

Despite these chal­lenges, I remain com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing the best care for each and every one of my olive trees,” Ben Ayed said. I have had to adapt my prac­tices, such as using more drought-resis­tant vari­eties and more effi­cient irri­ga­tion sys­tems to ensure that my trees con­tinue to thrive.”

Despite the dif­fi­cul­ties, I am more deter­mined than ever to pro­duce the best olive oil pos­si­ble, no mat­ter what chal­lenges come my way,” he added.

Tiger Power was another of Tunisia’s big win­ners at the com­pe­ti­tion, earn­ing three awards for its 1629 brands this year. The pro­ducer won two Gold Awards for its medium Chetoui and organic medium Chemlali and a Silver Award for another medium Chemlali.


(Photo: Tiger Power)

The company’s chief exec­u­tive, Tiger Kong, said the Tiger Power team was emo­tional. Our hard work really paid off, and we sin­cerely thank our team, farm­ers and loyal cus­tomers,” he said.

This is the third year we have entered the NYIOOC,” he said. In 2021, we earned noth­ing; in 2022, we earned one Gold Award; and in 2023, we earned two Gold Awards and one Silver,” Kong added. So you can see we keep improv­ing our qual­ity to reach our dream. Today, we can prove that we can do it, and we can do it bet­ter next year.”

Kong said win­ning the awards at the NYIOOC solid­i­fies the image of Tunisian extra vir­gin olive oil’s qual­ity. He is con­fi­dent that with these awards, cus­tomers and other pro­duc­ers will get to know his brand.

He added that the Tiger Power team’s love for their oils gives them a com­pet­i­tive edge. We put our heart into every drop of oil, take care of them and love them as par­ents love their baby,” he said. Our duty is to show the world that Tunisian olive oil is of the best oils in the world.”

Despite the suc­cess, Kong said the har­vest was com­pli­cated by issues related to cli­mate change and macro­eco­nomic con­di­tions. The cost of tak­ing care of our trees and pro­duc­tion has increased sharply,” he said. Everything has become so expen­sive.”

Another mul­ti­ple-award win­ner at the 2023 NYIOOC is Fermes Ali Sfar from north­east­ern Tunisia, which took home two awards for its organic Tesoro del Rio brand: a Gold Award for its medium Chemlali and a Silver for its medium Chetoui.


(Photo: Fermes Ali Sfar)

Winning a prize in the largest and most pres­ti­gious olive oil qual­ity com­pe­ti­tion gives us a sense of sat­is­fac­tion and accom­plish­ment,” export man­ager Donia Sfar said. It is a recog­ni­tion of our hard work and ded­i­ca­tion. Winning a Gold Award for the sec­ond year in a row gives us more moti­va­tion to con­tinue striv­ing for excel­lence in our endeav­ors,” she said.

She added that win­ning awards at the NYIOOC sig­nif­i­cantly impacts the brand and Tunisia by attract­ing invest­ment to the coun­try and con­tribut­ing to eco­nomic growth.

Sfar explained that the awards would increase brand aware­ness and boost employee and stake­holder morale. In addi­tion, she said win­ning awards at the NYIOOC attracts invest­ment to Tunisia and con­tributes to eco­nomic growth.

Sfar said the qual­ity of their olives and the loca­tion and con­di­tions in which they are grown gives Fermes Ali Sfar’s prod­uct the com­pet­i­tive edge. Our olives are pressed the tra­di­tional way using gran­ite mill­stone and mat press­ing,” she added.

She said it is essen­tial to focus on their extrac­tion method, the oil’s stor­age con­di­tions and the final pro­duc­t’s acid­ity lev­els to help the extra vir­gin olive oil stand out from their com­pe­ti­tion. This helps pre­serve the fla­vor and aroma of the oil over time,” she said.

Sfar described the har­vest that birthed their cov­eted oil as slightly dif­fi­cult due to a lack of rain­fall fol­lowed by a severe drought, lead­ing to a late har­vest start.

All this is due to cli­mate change that has accel­er­ated, bring­ing scorch­ing heat through­out the Mediterranean region in recent sum­mers,” she said. Winter rains have repeat­edly decreased in Tunisia, caus­ing a drop in olive oil pro­duc­tion.”

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