From increased media coverage to easier access to lucrative foreign markets, first-time winners at the World Olive Oil Competition reflect on the results of their hardwork and success.
Access to new markets, a significant increase in sales and extensive media attention are some of the new doors that have opened for these producers.
When you are on top of the world, the only sure thing is that you don’t go unnoticed.
Lebanese producer Rose Bechara Perini, the founder of social enterprise Darmmess, which won a Gold Award for its medium Souri, used the terms “outstanding” and “shocking” to describe the global exposure the company has enjoyed after its first win at the NYIOOC.
Bechara told Olive Oil Times that Darmmess’ award had been reported in more than 50 articles, and she has had television interviews and other forms of brand exposure since earning the industry’s most coveted quality award.See Also:East Asian Olive Oils Reach the World Stage
“Many potential business partners and extra virgin olive oil connoisseurs discovered the brand for the first time,” she said, adding that the recognition had led to opportunities to enter new markets.
“A Gold Award at the NYIOOC was one of the best feelings ever for us and our village, farmers, clients and business partners globally,” Bechara said.
“It was an unforgettable, proud moment for all Lebanese [people],” she added. For Bechara, winning the award was confirmation that Darmmess is on the right track “from good organic agricultural practices up to bottle storage, across every single detail of the value chain.”
“With a very ambitious vision of our product potential, which is also a high-value outlet for our community, we searched for a different kind of recognition,” she said. “Thus, we decided on the NYIOOC, being one the most prestigious, serious and toughest global competitions.”
Bechara said the 2022 harvest – preceded by three difficult ones – that bore Darmess’s award-winning oil was their most challenging ever.
“We had to face extreme power cuts, a scary rise of raw materials prices, a scarcity of fuel and a shortage of qualified manpower,” she said. “And the list goes on.”
“So we were more focused on these issues than on the quality, and despite that, we made it, and Darmmess is now recognized as one of the world’s best,” Bechara added.
She said that by winning this award, they have moved towards their goal of advancing Lebanese extra virgin olive globally.
Another first-time winner at this year’s World Competition was Ranis, from Greece, which earned a Gold Award for its Castello del Barone Collector’s Edition brand, an organic medium-intensity Patrini.
Owner Spiridon Anagnostopoulos told Olive Oil Times that winning an award at the NYIOOC undoubtedly gives producers the ability to enter new markets.
“Our orders in the partner markets of the United Arab Emirates doubled, and new markets, such as Canada and North America, turned their attention to our Barone brand,” Anagnostopoulos said.
He added that from the inception of his brand, one of their goals was to participate in the NYIOOC.
“There would be no other way for our variety and region to enter the olive oil world map if it were not for the NYIOOC,” he said, “giving the brand the means to shine on a worldwide stage.”
Anagnostopoulos said that each year and each harvest is unique. “But we have managed to overcome difficulties of the past and have standardized many parameters in the olive trees’ management,” he added.
“Our most difficult opponent every season is the abiotic factors that affect cultivation, such as thermal and water stress,” he said. “But, as expert agronomists, we study continuously and aim for an optimum result each year.”
According to Anagnostopoulos, too many factors affect quality. Still, Ranis is moving forward steadily, grasping crucial elements to create an award-winning extra virgin oil with unique aromas and exceptional flavors.
“A distinction like this gives everyone the strength and courage to continue their efforts and work harder,” Anagnostopoulos said. “As we mentioned in the local press in Greece, receiving such an award is a high honor and reward for all our efforts.”
“It was a professional goal that took time, but it became a reality,” he added. “We feel pure joy, pride, and professional justification.” Anagnostopoulos’ goal is to continue participating in the competition every year.
“I believe and feel that receiving a Gold Award at the NYIOOC is like receiving the Oscar of olive oils,” he said. “When you are on top of the world, the only sure thing is that you don’t go unnoticed.”
Meanwhile, further east, Eminems Olive Oil from Turkey celebrated two Gold Awards after entering the NYIOOC for the first time this year. The company earned awards for its Oro di Milas Reserve and Eminems Olive Oil brands, both organic Memecik oils.
“We were delighted that both of our oils were awarded Gold Medals,” co-owner Emine Colin said. “We crafted Oro di Milas Reserve to be a robust yet harmonious oil, while Eminems is from olives harvested later in the season and has a softer flavor profile than Oro di Milas.”
“We are launching our brands internationally this year, so it has been extremely busy, and winning Gold Awards for both of our oils at the NYIOOC has certainly had an impact,” she added.
“We launched Oro di Milas Reserve in the U.S. market in April,” she continued, “and have received incredibly positive responses to the quality of the oil as well as its distinct black bottle decorated with symbols from Turkish rugs.”
Colin said they built a new facility with a sophisticated mill following their 2021 harvest, which yielded oil that did not meet their standards, which they then sold in bulk.
“This current harvest was the first one for our branded products,” she said. “It was our first year of production in our new state-of-the-art mill facility.”
“Our goal was to produce Gold-Award-winning oil, and although we were confident that we had accomplished this goal, we entered the competition to seek validation from NYIOOC’s expert judges,” Colin added.
“We would like to give credit to our team,” she concluded. “Our award-winning oils were the result of many people’s efforts.”