Africa / Middle East

Tunisian Olive Oils Reach New Heights in World Competition

Despite the political and economic difficulties, Tunisian olive oils won more quality awards at this year's World Olive Oil Competition than ever before.

The team at Viaraya
May. 20, 2020
By Lisa Anderson
The team at Viaraya

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Part of our con­tin­u­ing cov­er­age of the 2020 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Com­pe­ti­tion.

Tunisian pro­duc­ers earned a record-high 21 awards at the 2020 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Com­pe­ti­tion, four more than the pre­vi­ous record set at last year’s edi­tion of the con­test.

The much-needed rains pre­ced­ing the North African country’s har­vest seemed to be an omen of good things to come.

It wipes out all the tired­ness and rewards the hard work I went through dur­ing the har­vest sea­son in order to pro­duce such great qual­ity olive oil.- Karim Fitouri, owner of Olivko

Despite polit­i­cal upheaval and a decrease in olive oil prices, pro­duc­ers from the world’s largest olive oil pro­ducer out­side of the Euro­pean Union earned a record-high 12 Gold Awards and nine Sil­vers at the NYIOOC.

I feel very proud,” said Olivko founder and owner Karim Fitouri, about the three Gold Awards his com­pany received. It con­firms that the things I am doing are cor­rect.”

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See more: Spe­cial Cov­er­age: 2020 NYIOOC

Olivko won the Golds for its del­i­cate Wild Cul­ti­var, del­i­cate Chem­lali and medium Chetoui, all of which are organic.

Fitouri, whose farm is in the Dougga Val­ley, in Tunisia’s north­west­ern Beja region, said the key fac­tors to his suc­cess are his atten­tion to detail, long-term think­ing and pas­sion for olive oil. How­ever, he said hard work is by far the biggest deter­min­ing fac­tor in this year’s suc­cess.

It wipes out all the tired­ness and rewards the hard work I went through dur­ing the har­vest sea­son in order to pro­duce such great qual­ity olive oil,” Fitouri said.

Har­vest­ing the olives at Olivko.

The Al Rajhi El Fer­jani Food Indus­try Com­pany was also among the big Tunisian win­ners, tak­ing home a Gold for their del­i­cate Chetoui and a Sil­ver for their medium Chetoui.

Atef Fer­jani, the company’s exec­u­tive man­ager, said that he was very pleased with the result and that the two awards are great recog­ni­tion for his team’s hard work dur­ing what was an excep­tional year for them.

I feel very proud and thank­ful that we have won these pres­ti­gious awards,” he said. For us, it is a great chal­lenge we have accom­plished. The Cartha­gene Olivos brand is like our old­est son and we are proud that he achieved his first vic­tory in his first global com­pe­ti­tion.”

For Fer­jani, these awards cap off what has already been a very good crop year for him and his team, which began with the instal­la­tion of a new mill.

For us, 2019 was an excep­tional year,” he said. We com­pleted the instal­la­tion of the olive oil extrac­tion plant in Octo­ber 2019; the tanks were installed in Novem­ber, which came one month behind the har­vest in Tunisia.”

But this delay has given us more con­fi­dence that even with the late start, we could achieve our goals,” he added.

Ben Amore Agri­cole won for Koliva, a medium-inten­sity Chem­lali.

Another big win­ner at the 2020 NYIOOC was the French com­pany, HDPM, which pro­duces its Par­celle 26 brand of olive oil in Tunisia.

The com­pany won three Gold Awards at this year’s com­pe­ti­tion, improv­ing on the pre­vi­ous year’s per­for­mance, in which they won two Golds and a Sil­ver. The awards came for two medium Arbe­quina mono­va­ri­etals and one medium Arbe­quina blend.

This year, Par­celle 26 has accom­plished a sig­nif­i­cant mile­stone by installing its new olive mill on-farm,” Mouna Berdi, the company’s busi­ness devel­oper, said. This was really chal­leng­ing for us and we believe that it will open new hori­zons and allow us to give con­sumers the best prod­uct that we can.”

Berdi said if there is a secret to their suc­cess, it would be the word con­trol, from the fruit set­ting through the har­vest and up to the moment of bot­tling.

It’s not an easy task mak­ing pre­mium qual­ity olive oil,” Berdi said. Each year there are a few sur­prises.”

Domaine Ado­nis capped a suc­cess­ful year with two Sil­ver Awards.

The com­pany pro­duces extra vir­gin olive oil from Koroneiki olives using tra­di­tional har­vest­ing meth­ods and the 2019/2020 sea­son was for­tu­itous for the com­pany, owner Ben Ayed Salah said.

2019 was an excep­tional year for our field apart from a lack of man­power due to a record har­vest in Tunisia. Our chal­lenge was to pro­duce for our first year an excel­lent qual­ity oil with our own two-phase oil mill,” Ayed Salah said.

Blend No. 3, a medium inten­sity blend, and Koroneiki No. 5, a medium Koroneiki, were the win­ning oils.

We are proud and happy to have been medaled by this pres­ti­gious com­pe­ti­tion for our first inter­na­tional trip,” said Ayed Salah.

The Tunisian pro­ducer Viaraya won two awards for a pair of its organic mono­va­ri­etals.

The com­pany picked up a Gold Award for its Oleas­tra Sahli brand, an organic del­i­cate Sehli, and a Sil­ver Award for its organic medium Chetoui.

Hard work always pays off in the end,” owner Raya Abid said. My team and I are so happy to be awarded!”

Abid said that while the end result was sat­is­fy­ing, there many headaches along the way to pro­duc­ing the two win­ning oils.

Our mill is still under con­struc­tion, so it was dif­fi­cult to find the right’ mill with the machines and the hygiene norms we wanted,” Abid said. Then we had to rent it out entirely, so our mae­stro could use it exclu­sively for Oleas­tra. There were also other headaches of course, includ­ing olive trans­porta­tion, find­ing the right tim­ing and tem­per­a­ture, as well other logis­tics.”


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