Teams from Poland and Israel managed to win the 4th World Championship in Olive Picking. The unique contest took place from October 7th to 10th among the orchards on the slopes of the Croatian Brač island, one of the beautiful Adriatic islands, where inhabitants began growing olives more than two thousand years ago.
The two winning teams each collected 48.6 kg of olives, finishing tied in what was considered the tightest competition since the event first took place.
All of the olives collected by the teams were set to be processed into extra virgin olive oil under the region’s Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) certification.
The second-place finishers from South Africa gathered 47.2 kilograms of fruits, confirming their competitiveness that resulted in third place in the previous edition. This time, the third-place spot went to the Russian team which harvested the century-old olive grove of St. Joseph for 43.4 kilograms of hand-picked olives.
The competition, aimed at fostering olive oil culture in the country and abroad and celebrating local agriculture, had ten teams competing for the title. The reigning world champions from Montenegro had to forfeit when a last-minute Covid-19 self-isolation became necessary for one of their team members.
Still, two of those champions managed to reach the island to support the event and share their winning tips.
The competition was organized in Postira by a local agricultural cooperative, the Postira Tourist Board and the municipality.
The teams were competing in two disciplines: speed-picking by hand within a designated time limit, and a quiz that tested knowledge in the field of olive growing and olive oil production.
Ortal Elbaz, captain of the Israeli team, said “the competition was very strong and everyone wanted to win. Still, this is truly a competition where the most important thing is to participate. The atmosphere is beautiful and friendly and the hosts are fantastic.”
Karol Podborozny, who led the Polish team, attributed the victory to a tough work ethic. “Hard-working people,” he concluded. “I think that’s the secret. But we are very proud of sharing the title with a strong olive nation like Israel.”
The Croatian national team wound up in the seventh position. It was composed by Croatian notables such as captain and rocker Neno Belan, singer Zorica Kondža, actress Nives Ivanković and celebrated alpinist Stipe Božić.
“Imagine, this is my first time picking olives,” the singing diva Zorica Kondža mused. “It is fantastic for me to see all these cheerful people in the olive grove, how they enjoy the harvest and share experiences with each other, but take the competition very seriously. A truly wonderful experience.”
The quiz part of the competition was won by the international team Digital Nomads, with members coming from England, Wales, the Netherlands, the United States and Japan, and whose coach was from Australia.
Ivana Jelinčić, director of the local Tourist Board, called the event a “perfect blend of agriculture and tourism.” The participants and guests, Jelinčić said, are part of “the story that our town lives throughout the year.”
In 2019, the event in Postira was awarded by an international tourism organization as the best “creative experience in tourism,” among as many as 160 registered projects from around the world.
Croatian olive oil producers have also garnered fame on a global level for the outstanding quality of their extra virgin olive oils. At the 2021 NYIOOC Championship, the country’s producers won more than 80 Gold and Silver Awards according to the Official Index of the World’s Best Olive Oils.
The results of the 4th World Olive Picking Championship were:
Poland / Israel