Croatia's Top Producers Upbeat as Harvest Nears

As fall rolls in, several Croatian producers say the conditions look good for another award-winning year.

Harvest at Salvela
Sep. 25, 2018
By Daniel Dawson
Harvest at Salvela

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Croatian olive oil pro­duc­ers enjoyed an unprece­dent­edly suc­cess­ful year at the 2018 NYIOOC World International Olive Oil Competition (NYIOOC), receiv­ing a record 40 awards for 45 entries, includ­ing two Best in Class.

Their suc­cess rate of 89 per­cent was the high­est of any coun­try that sub­mit­ted at least 10 oils in the 2018 edi­tion of the com­pe­ti­tion. Croatian pro­duc­ers also set records for Gold and Silver awards received.
See Also: The Best Olive Oils from Croatia

Olive oil pro­duc­tion is a con­stant chal­lenge whose ulti­mate goal is to achieve the utmost qual­ity,” Marija Buršić, of Buršić OPG, told Olive Oil Times. This year Buršić achieved just that, receiv­ing a Best in Class for her De Kleva blend.

De Kleva is a com­bi­na­tion of five types of olives: the Istrian bjel­ica, Buža, Frantoio, Leccino and Pendolino,” she said. It is rich in polyphe­nols and antiox­i­dants that are good for our health.”

Buršić’s De Kleva had pre­vi­ously won a Gold at the com­pe­ti­tion and she plans to sub­mit it again next year. She cred­ited the oil’s suc­cess to both her family’s cul­ti­va­tion tech­niques and the unique loca­tion of their olive groves, a famil­iar theme among Croatian pro­duc­ers.

Nature is a very impor­tant part­ner in pro­duc­tion,” Buršić said. Nova Vas, with its undu­lat­ing and sunny hills that veer towards the river, has always been, in its own spe­cial way, ideal for olive pro­duc­tion. The con­di­tions are excep­tional: nat­u­rally diverse olive groves, an ideal ter­rain and an opti­mal micro­cli­mate.”

Harvest at Salvela

While Buršić did not say how her har­vest is going this year com­pared with pre­vi­ous ones, sev­eral other pro­duc­ers who took home some of the competition’s top hon­ors are opti­mistic that this year will be just as good as the last one.

This year looks great for us,” Vedrana Rakovac, the owner of OPG Rakovac, told Olive Oil Times. Rakovac took home a Gold award for her Bilini blend. Her Gold was one of 27 awarded to Croatian pro­duc­ers at the 2018 NYIOOC.

The fruit is healthy and abun­dant. It’s been a great year for the Istrian cul­ti­var, Buža, which is very promis­ing since Buža pro­vides oil of extra­or­di­nary qual­ity,” she said. This might be a fan­tas­tic year for our Bilini extra vir­gin olive oil.”

This year was Rakovac’s first time enter­ing the NYIOOC. Her Bilini had pre­vi­ously won awards at sev­eral Croatian olive oil com­pe­ti­tions and she felt that enter­ing an inter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion with the pedi­gree of the NYIOOC was the next log­i­cal step for her brand.

Vedrana Rakovac and family

Rakovac plans to enter the com­pe­ti­tion again next year and, just like this year, will only sub­mit her Bilini. She is con­fi­dent that her oil will win again due to the com­bi­na­tion of her loca­tion, vari­etals and pro­duc­tion tech­niques.

We believe that our Bilini extra vir­gin olive oil’s secret ingre­di­ent’ is the micro-loca­tion of our olive groves, as well as the share of indi­vid­ual cul­ti­vars which give a unique taste to our blend,” Rakovac said. Location wise, our olive groves are posi­tioned on the very edge of the olive’s nat­ural habi­tat, which tends to extract the best from them.”

Edi Družetić is also con­fi­dent about the com­ing har­vest year. He is an olive oil pro­ducer at Agroprodukt, which has sub­mit­ted their Salvela Buža extra vir­gin olive oil for the past six years and won Gold for the oil in each of the past three.

I expect this year’s har­vest to be quite good, just like the last few years were,” he told Olive Oil Times. Družetić also attrib­utes the unique micro­cli­mate in the region of Istria to the suc­cess of Agroprodukt’s oils.


The impor­tant dif­fer­ence from our Salvela Buža com­pared with other oils is the vari­etal, which only grows in the south of Istria and has par­tic­u­larly nat­ural aro­matic val­ues,” he said.

Družetić said Agroprodukt plans on enter­ing the com­pe­ti­tion next year too and hopes to win more awards with their Salvela Buža and Torcol, which did not receive any awards at the 2018 NYIOOC.

We will cer­tainly be present for next year’s com­pe­ti­tion, to con­firm the sta­tus of our oils,” he said.

According to the International Olive Council, Croatia pro­duced 5,000 tons of olive oil last year, mak­ing the small east­ern European coun­try the eigh­teenth largest pro­ducer glob­ally. However, this har­vest sea­son is an off-year and, so far, the esti­mated yield is 2,600 tons. Despite its rel­a­tively small out­put, the qual­ity of Croatian olive oils con­tin­ues to be world-renowned.

Most pro­duc­ers focus on qual­ity over quan­tity. The com­ing months are, there­fore, key for pro­duc­ers hop­ing to con­tinue their impres­sive track record at the 2019 NYIOOC.

Each year’s har­vest is dif­fer­ent because of the weather influ­ence and there­fore chal­leng­ing,” Vedran Lupić of OPG Lupić, told Olive Oil Times.

Lupić and her hus­band won Croatia’s other Best in Class award for their Bembo Buža extra vir­gin olive oil. She said that pro­duc­ing award-win­ning oil is the cul­mi­na­tion of care­ful har­vest­ing and high-qual­ity and good luck with the weather the weather, which Croatia has largely had this sum­mer.

To ensure a high-qual­ity prod­uct, we fol­low year-round ten­der­ing and mod­ern agro-tech­ni­cal meth­ods, with spe­cial atten­tion given to hand har­vest­ing in mid-October, thereby elim­i­nat­ing and reduc­ing dam­age to the fruit,” she said.

To prove to our­selves that we have done a good job, we need to enter this com­pe­ti­tion every year,” she added.

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