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Greek Producers Continue to Celebrate Record Year at 2020 NYIOOC

Celebrating good results after a tough year and acknowledging the steps needed to continue producing high-quality oil in a changing climate were among the themes discussed by winning producers.

Harvesting the olives for Salvation Olive Oil.
May. 21, 2020
By Costas Vasilopoulos
Harvesting the olives for Salvation Olive Oil.

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The record-high 69 awards achieved by Greek pro­duc­ers and exporters at the NYIOOC World Olive Oil Com­pe­ti­tion has led to wide­spread cel­e­bra­tion and joy in the world’s third-largest olive oil pro­duc­ing nation.

Hel­lenic Agri­cul­tural Enter­prises, from the island of Lesvos, excelled among par­tic­i­pants from Greece this year, pick­ing up three Gold Awards for their Acaia, Acaia Organic and Aeo­lian extra vir­gin olive oils, all of which are made from the Kolovi vari­ety, indige­nous to Lesvos.

Win­ning a Gold Award in the NYIOOC, we were over­come with pride and joy; the whole oil-pro­duc­ing Apos­to­lakis fam­ily is filled with opti­mism.- Kyr­i­akos Apos­to­lakis, Sal­va­tion Olive Oil

We are highly grat­i­fied that our olive oils have been awarded by the NYIOOC for the sixth year in a row,” man­ag­ing direc­tor Ellie Tra­gakes said. We feel this tes­ti­fies to our hard work, com­mit­ment and love for what we do.”

Once again, we hope this will help us bring world­wide recog­ni­tion to Lesvos, our home island in the Aegean Sea, which is also home to our olive trees,” she added.

See more: The Best Olive Oils from Greece

Mean­while, Florida-based pro­ducer, Ellora Farms, had a 100-per­cent suc­cess rate at this year’s NYIOOC. The Cre­tan pro­ducer won two Gold Awards for their PDO Kolym­vari and PDO Mes­sara, both of which are del­i­cate Koroneiki extra vir­gin olive oils.

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We were pleas­antly sur­prised and quite elated that we had won Gold awards for both of the entries we sub­mit­ted,” Pra­ful Mehta, the founder of Ellora Farms, said.

We were opti­mistic in win­ning an award this year since we pro­duced two excel­lent-qual­ity prod­ucts,” he added. We never thought we would win two Gold Awards and achieve a 100-per­cent suc­cess rate.”

Another dou­ble win­ner of the com­pe­ti­tion was Alpha Pi from Olympia, which secured a Gold Award for its Pre­mium brand and another one for its Orig­i­nal brand, both of which are medium Koroneiki oils.

The awards were really impor­tant for Alpha Pi this year, which was a dif­fi­cult year regard­ing the weather con­di­tions and the obsta­cles in pro­duc­tion,” Dim­itris Kat­sanos told Olive Oil Times.

All our asso­ciates and staff were extremely cau­tious in mon­i­tor­ing the con­di­tions in the field and deter­min­ing when the olives were ready for har­vest, with the result being two pre­cious Gold Awards,” he added.

The accu­mu­lated expe­ri­ence makes them bet­ter each year, Kat­sanos added, enabling them to enter new mar­kets and com­pete with estab­lished play­ers of the global olive oil indus­try, even though the COVID-19 pan­demic has taken its toll on their devel­op­ment.

The clo­sure of rel­e­vant busi­nesses had a seri­ous impact on us,” he said. Still, we are opti­mistic and we stand by our cus­tomers to cover their needs. Dur­ing the lock­down, we had the chance to redesign our strat­egy and pre­pare for the future.”

Col­lect­ing the olives behind Cul­tura Olive Oil’s Gold Award-win­ning mono­va­ri­etal.

A sim­i­lar tally of two Gold Awards was earned by Elaikos, from Nea Per­amos in north­ern Greece.

We were excited to receive two Gold Awards in the com­pe­ti­tion. Such a dis­tinc­tion in com­pe­ti­tions like the NYIOOC is very impor­tant for small pro­duc­ers like us,” Christodou­los Roume­li­o­tis, the owner of Elaikos, said.

See more: Spe­cial Cov­er­age: 2020 NYIOOC

We also feel more respon­si­ble because we have raised the bar and expec­ta­tions have risen accord­ingly. Of course, we will work harder to keep our qual­ity at high lev­els,” he added.

Roume­li­o­tis added that the way to improve the har­vest in Greece is by begin­ning ear­lier and adapt­ing to the chang­ing cli­mate.

I tried to find an open olive oil mill in early Octo­ber, but I couldn’t find one,” he said. We must under­stand that the sea­son starts ear­lier than usual now, espe­cially in places like Crete and the Pelo­pon­nese, where the weather is mild and the olive dru­pes ripen more quickly than else­where.”

Elaikos won a Gold Award for their medium blend and another for a medium Picual.

Bläuel Greek Organic Prod­ucts won a Sil­ver Award at the NYIOOC for an organic mono­va­ri­etal.

Along with sea­soned vet­er­ans of the com­pe­ti­tion, some Greek pro­duc­ers sent their extra vir­gin olive oil sam­ples to New York for the first time, and were pleas­antly sur­prised by the results.

Me Agapi won a Gold Award for its Daph­nis and Chloe Selec­tion, made from early har­vested olives of a medium Galani vari­ety, from Chalkidik.

This is our first time par­tic­i­pat­ing at the NYIOOC and we are truly hon­ored to have received this award,” owner George Pananos told Olive Oil Times. We very much enjoyed the live broad­cast­ing of the results and the spot­light it pro­vided to the win­ning olive oils.”

The Greek olive oil sec­tor, on the other hand, has room for improve­ment, Pananos argued.

Greece is a major pro­ducer with some of the world’s best cul­ti­vars,” he said. We must con­tinue to fur­ther improve our cul­ti­va­tion and olive oil pro­duc­ing prac­tices through edu­ca­tion.”

We believe the Greek olive oil sec­tor must make a greater effort to pro­mote and to mar­ket the Greek olive oils on the inter­na­tional stage,” Pananos added.

Yet another one of Greece’s 30 Gold Awards went to Kyr­i­akos Apos­to­lakis, from Lako­nia, for his Sal­va­tion extra vir­gin olive oil, made from a del­i­cate Myr­to­lia.

Win­ning a Gold Award in the NYIOOC, we were over­come with pride and joy; the whole oil-pro­duc­ing Apos­to­lakis fam­ily is filled with opti­mism,” Apos­to­lakis told Olive Oil Times.

At the same time, there is this grow­ing sense of respon­si­bil­ity,” he added. We wish to fully main­tain the high level of our pro­duc­tion so as to excel and main­tain this impor­tant award year after year.”

Sal­va­tion Olive Oil has already proved it is here to stay,” Apos­to­lakis con­tin­ued. Its taste con­tin­ues to get bet­ter each year and that’s why it is bound to attract even more con­sumers and exceed their high­est expec­ta­tions, whether tasted raw or cooked.”

Aris­ton Arca­dia Coop­er­a­tive won a Sil­ver Award for its Vil­lage Batch brand, an organic medium Koroneiki.

Mean­while, Dim­itrios Garo­fal­los was burst­ing with pride after win­ning a Gold Award for his Mar­maro brand, made from a medium Chalkidiki vari­ety.

I can­not really express my emo­tions,” he said. It is the first prize I have won in a com­pe­ti­tion, and not any com­pe­ti­tion but the NYIOOC. I am truly happy and grate­ful and I think all the hard work my asso­ciates and I have done has been rewarded.”

We will keep work­ing hard,” Garo­fal­los added. The Greek olive oil sec­tor is devel­op­ing as more young peo­ple get in, bring­ing ideas, enthu­si­asm and pas­sion. The new brands, the inno­v­a­tive pack­ages, and the inter­na­tional prizes won are proof of that.”

For Spy­ros Army­ros, the owner of Oilove, from Fokida in cen­tral Greece, receiv­ing a Sil­ver Award for his lim­ited-pro­duc­tion organic extra vir­gin olive oil, made from the Patrini and Tsounati vari­eties, was a great achieve­ment.

Win­ning at the NYIOOC is extremely impor­tant for the pro­mo­tion and recog­ni­tion of our prod­ucts in inter­na­tional mar­kets and espe­cially in the demand­ing U.S. mar­ket,” Army­ros told Olive Oil Times.

Organic cul­ti­va­tion faces many chal­lenges due to risks in yield vol­ume, chang­ing weather con­di­tions, dis­eases, low prices and the inter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion,” he added. The pan­demic has fur­ther dete­ri­o­rated the prospects of the olive oil sec­tor, but we are con­vinced that our adher­ence to qual­ity will reward us.”

In spite of prob­lems caused to the sec­tor by the pan­demic, pro­duc­ers did not let them dampen their cel­e­bra­tions for their suc­cess­ful 2019 sea­son.

Cel­e­brat­ing a suc­cess­ful har­vest at Liokar­eas mill.

We were extremely hon­ored to receive the award this year at NYIOOC,” Peter Liokar­eas, who won a Sil­ver Award for the sec­ond straight year for an early har­vest medium Koroneiki, told Olive Oil Times.

To win awards in back-to-back years at the NYIOOC means a lot to us,” he added. It proves we can be an award-win­ning pro­ducer in the off years’ and in the on years’ as well. Being able to pro­duce con­sis­tent high-qual­ity olive oil with the ongo­ing changes to cli­mate and har­vest con­di­tions is our goal.”

The Corfu-based Olive Fab­rica was yet another pro­ducer cel­e­brat­ing a first-time tri­umph at the World Olive Oil Com­pe­ti­tion.

We are proud and happy for our first NYIOOC award,” Spy­ros Daf­nis told Olive Oil Times, after win­ning a Sil­ver Award for the Gov­er­nor, a mono­va­ri­etal Lianelia.

It is like a dream come true,” Daf­nis added. By mar­ry­ing tra­di­tion with tech­no­log­i­cal inno­va­tion and sci­en­tific research we man­aged to pro­duce and present the first sin­gle vari­ety from Liano­lia.”

How­ever, Daf­nis acknowl­edged that suc­cess brings respon­si­bil­ity and pres­sure to remain com­pet­i­tive.

Our NYIOOC award is also a recog­ni­tion of all these days and nights we spent over the last 10 years in our olive farms and the mill, look­ing for high qual­ity,” he said. Finally for us, this award sym­bol­izes a great chal­lenge to return with an even bet­ter oil next year.”


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