In Japan, Producers Reflect on An Award-Winning Year

Producers in Japan combined to earn a record-tying four Gold Awards and two Silver Awards, overcoming formidable harvest-year challenges.
Nippon Olive Company
Aug. 1, 2022
Paolo DeAndreis

Part of our con­tin­u­ing spe­cial cov­er­age of the 2022 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.

The grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity of extra vir­gin olive oil in Japan has closely fol­lowed the coun­try’s con­sis­tently strong per­for­mances at the NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition

At the 2022 edi­tion of the world’s largest olive oil qual­ity con­test, pro­duc­ers from Japan earned six awards, the third-high­est total for the East Asian nation in the com­pe­ti­tion.

Their high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oils were extracted after one of the most chal­leng­ing har­vest sea­sons in years. 

See Also:The Best Olive Oils from Japan

Flooding, land­slides and heavy rain­fall were unwel­come guests dur­ing those pre­car­i­ous weeks when the fruits reach the ideal ripen­ing and grow­ers begin to gather and trans­form them.

Moisture con­trol of the soil was one of the chal­lenges we faced this year,” Toyohiro Takao, chief exec­u­tive of Olive Hatake, told Olive Oil Times. Not only the irri­ga­tion in sum­mer but also the autumn rain has been the main issues.” 

Despite these chal­lenges, Olive Hatake earned a Gold Award for its medium blend, the com­pa­ny’s lat­est acco­lade at the NYIOOC. 


Toyohiro Takao

I feel very happy and hon­ored [to win], which comes after we focused even more on mak­ing a very high-qual­ity prod­uct than in the past,” Takao said. I think that such a pres­ti­gious award which places the olive oil from Takao farm in Shodo Island among the best in the world will greatly impact the brand.”

He added that the upcom­ing 2022 har­vest is shap­ing up to be a promis­ing one.

Compared to the last few years, we see olives grow­ing vig­or­ously after a rich flow­er­ing. Therefore, we can expect a good har­vest,” Takao said. I have some wor­ries about the typhoon sea­son, which peaks from August to September.” 

This requires our work­ers’ spe­cial care so that the olives can over­come that period,” he added. After that, with a strong selec­tion and a care­ful har­vest, we can expect a truly high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil.”

Interest in olive oil is grow­ing among Japanese fam­i­lies and restau­rants, many of whom are increas­ingly dis­cov­er­ing its health ben­e­fits and organolep­tic prop­er­ties, which eas­ily blend with one of the most famous culi­nary tra­di­tions in the world. 

According to data from the International Olive Council (IOC), olive oil con­sump­tion in Japan has grown steadily over the past three decades, ris­ing from 4,000 tons in the 1990/91 crop year to an esti­mated 60,000 tons in the cur­rent one. Takao also con­firmed this trend to Olive Oil Times in a 2021 inter­view

The use of olive oil in the home is increas­ing,” he said. We have been receiv­ing orders from sushi restau­rants, soba noo­dle restau­rants, tem­pura restau­rants, kappo restau­rants and other Japanese restau­rants.”

While some locally-pro­duced olive oil is exported – mainly to France, China and Vietnam – most is sold domes­ti­cally.

Although olive cul­ti­va­tion and olive oil demand are flour­ish­ing in Japan and other Asian coun­tries, the his­tory of olives is still young,” Noboyuki Hiraiwa, founder of Agri Olive Shodoshima (AOS), told Olive Oil Times. 


The team behind Agri-Olive Shodoshima

So we are just at the begin­ning and hope that more farm­ers over time will pro­duce olive oil of a qual­ity as good as that of European and American olive oils,” he added.

AOS won three awards at the 2022 NYIOOC and con­firmed the excel­lent qual­ity of its prod­ucts which have repeat­edly been rec­og­nized in the com­pe­ti­tion. 

Of the three new extra vir­gin olive oils we entered for the first time [at the 2022 NYIOOC], one received a Gold Award, and one received a Silver Award,” Hiraiwa said. 

We are very pleased to have received these awards,” he added. However, we are very dis­ap­pointed that one of our extra vir­gin olive oils was not awarded and that our flag­ship extra vir­gin olive oil, which had won the Gold Award for the past three years, received a Silver Award this year.”

According to Hiraiwa, the com­pa­ny’s excel­lent results will sup­port the suc­cess of his com­pany in the mar­ket. 

We are con­fi­dent that win­ning Gold and Silver Awards at the pres­ti­gious NYIOOC will strengthen our brand and help us in our future mar­ket­ing strate­gies,” he said.

In a May 2022 inter­view with Olive Oil Times, Hiraiwa empha­sized the cru­cial role played by research into olive grow­ing for those who want to pro­duce the high­est qual­ity prod­ucts. 

We also hope to be able to visit and enhance our knowl­edge of advanced olive oil pro­duc­ing coun­tries in Europe and the United States to pro­duce bet­ter extra vir­gin olive oil,” he added.

Yasuhiro Yoshida, the pro­duc­tion direc­tor of Nippon OliveCompany, was another of Japan’s repeat win­ners, cel­e­brat­ing suc­cess at the com­pe­ti­tion once again.


Harvesting olives at Nippon Olive Company

I am very happy, that’s all I can say,” he told Olive Oil Times. The com­pa­ny’s Ushimado and Ushimado Superior brands each earned Gold Awards.

We have always been very proud of our prod­ucts and the taste of our Ushimado and Ushimado Superior brands,” Yoshida said. Those awards con­firm our work and make us excep­tion­ally happy.”

The com­pany is invest­ing heav­ily in the qual­ity of its 10 hectares of olive groves, where more than 2,000 olive trees thrive. 

Our efforts to improve Ushimado Superior are also hav­ing an impact on Ushimado, and [the awards] are proof that they are lead­ing to higher qual­ity prod­ucts,” Yoshida said. We are con­fi­dent that these awards will strengthen our efforts and spur us on even fur­ther.”

We do not want to be influ­enced by the result, as we humbly go on with our olive oil pro­duc­tion,” he con­cluded. The award itself is one step in the olive oil pro­duc­tion process. One thing I can say for sure: all Japanese pro­duc­ers are striv­ing to pro­duce good tast­ing extra vir­gin olive oil.”


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