“Isn’t it great to be back for real, with a live audience and excited participants after the enforced virtual celebration of last year.”

Welcome to the SA Olive annual competition awards to celebrate and applaud our producers who once again have produced quality extra virgin olive oil which compares favourably with the best of the best on a world stage.

Isn’t it great to be back for real, with a live audience and excited participants after the enforced virtual celebration of last year? To those who have lost loved ones during this time we extend our heartfelt condolences, and we all look forward to normality after covid.

Congratulations to those producers who have already won medals in international competitions for the 2021 season – you do us proud in representing all that we stand for on the world stage.

It’s your day today to celebrate and enjoy the feel-good factor of a job well done.

But firstly, such events don’t just happen. To our sponsors for today’s event, we thank:
Amenduni, Mori-Tem, and Pieralisi. Your contributions are much appreciated.

thanks to ABSA bank for continuing to believe in us with ongoing sponsorship. You help enormously in continuing to reward our winners with growing market awareness and genuinely add value to our local industry.

Lastly, a big thank you to Vittoria and her team for going the extra mile in setting up this event against the ever changing restrictions of covid. Salute

Some background to the competition itself
The competition tasting panel was selected from our CTC participants and judged under the very able leadership of Dr Aldo Mazzini Taly.

Dr Mazzini is a member of the ONAOO (national olive oil tasters) panel since 2000. He has won the Italian national competition ‘taster of the year’ on two occasions and graduated as a panel leader in 2009. He runs an international consultancy on olive oil quality and has participated as a judge in many prestigious competitions around the world.

Aldo presented a training course “the colours of olive oil” and those who attended certainly learnt about the science of how you taste olive oil as well as the necessity to be able to distinguish the different defects and how to prevent these happening in the future.

Everytime we think we have the subject of olive oil quality waxed and then we meet an individual like Aldo we learn this is a lifelong development and not something you pick up in 5 to 10 years! Commitment and practice makes perfect.

In support of the selected panel judges we first need to extend our thanks to reni and the ctc tasting panel, the unsung heroes who evaluate oils on a weekly basis and provide the backbone to the improving qualities we see each year in our competition.

Then to the elected panel judges:
Rene Hildenbrand, Benedetta Lami, Jackie Loubser, Marlene Loubser and Michelle Kruger.

Please come up and accept a token of our appreciation, raise your glasses and drink a toast to the judges.

The current world we live in is challenging. We have endured lockdowns, restricted movement and no tourists, closed restaurants, hotels and job losses like never seen before.

Our economy has taken a hiding and one cannot help but think that our government could’ve been more pragmatic in determining the real downside of lockdowns/social distancing versus the plight of the economy. As a country we simply don’t have the wherewithal to shutdown the economy and put paid to small and developing businesses as well as explode unemployment levels.

We needed a different plan not simply a cut and paste from Europe and the first world, but unlikely given our government track record until outside world pressure and social lobbying force the issue. Be that as it may, it is what it is and we should only look back to learn and for now we need find positives going forward, and believe it or not there are some positives right now.

5 to 7 olive trees are being planted every second, that’s an average of 160 to 200 million trees a year. Oil production is expected to double to over 6 million tons of oil over the next ten to fifteen years. Multinationals are investing and big producers are getting bigger and bigger.

Futurists and trend analysts have done their homework and the real money obviously believes such growth in consumption is going to happen. Consumers are beginning to understand why extra virgin olive oil should be your fat of choice in your diet and now want easy distinction between the real deal and fraudulent oil.

Spain has just introduced laws that limit the use of the words “extra virgin” and “virgin” to olive oil only and prohibit the use on any blended oils. Additionally, they will prohibit the blending of last year’s crop with new crop to improve taste but reduce shelf life considerably and will also force the issue of non-refillable containers.

International transport and logistics costs have increased exponentially during covid, and the world is questioning the benefit of unnecessarily shipping the proverbial coals to Newcastle! Economies of scale will affect quality and there is undoubtedly a growing space for top quality oil produced by smaller producers with smart attention to detail. So, take in the positives and understand.

Competition is not amongst ourselves but rather the subsidised imports. The cheap nasty rubbish that enters our country. Unchallenged, fraudulently labelled and skewing the perception on price of our locally produced oils. It’s time to take advantage of the current world-wide trend and push our local consumers to buy local and recognise quality over quantity.

The assumed premium price is a cheap price to pay for our own well-being and keeping south Africans employed rather than inadvertently supporting the Mediterranean basin populace in their efforts to keep people employed!

It’s simple – support South Africa buy south African internationally. No-one else cares or has our interest at heart!

We all need to continually challenge the government, the retailers, the influencers and the consumers – reduce reliance on poor quality imports which keep Europeans in employment at the cost of our own fellow South Africans.

If this message doesn’t get you going to be proactive in every sense of the word then don’t cry foul as the silent majority when it is too late! It’s time to teach and convert consumers to appreciate the taste of good olive oil along with its many health benefits. No-one appreciates how bad, bad olive oil tastes until one tastes good olive oil – make it your mission to get this message through to as many people as you can.

Challenge the restaurants that dish up imported rubbish, question your local supermarket manager as to why he chooses to stock his shelves with poor quality imports and exacerbate our unemployment problems.

A groundswell movement motivating positive change, questioning poor governance and offering solutions is desperately needed to get this ship, South Africa, back on track and be the country we all wish to live and prosper in.

The silent majority can no longer be silent – it is time to get involved and make a difference!

Stand together and relentlessly get our message across that we need to change, and that change is to focus on more consumption, less imports and buy local – the small premium far outweighs a country in ruins!

Thank you and congratulations to you all – we can all be winners.