Kangaroo Island Olives last week was awarded "Best In Show" from the Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society of South Australia for its Smoked Kalamata Table Olives.
General manager Michael Esposito said he couldn't be happier and was honoured to receive such a prestigious award.
"Our smoked olives truly are a unique Kangaroo Island delicacy," Mr Esposito said.
"Not only were they grown and on the island, but they were developed in collaboration with a range of local Kangaroo Island chefs and growers to get them to where they are today.
"Our team have put a tremendous amount of effort into these olives, and we're so happy all the hard work has finally paid off.
"To not only win Best In Show, but to see them garner an almost cult-like following was absolutely amazing and leaves all of us here extremely proud of our efforts!"
Judges described the olives as having "an attractive smoked aroma followed by great flavour, balance and strength", with a "persistent long finish and overall good texture, shape and size."
Kangaroo Island Olives also picked up a swag of medals, including Silver for its Mixed Mediterranean Olives and Bronze for its Traditional Kalamata Olives.
The Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Novello Olive Oil also won Bronze awards in their respective classes.
"I'd like to thank the dedicated and hard-working team that includes our farming staff, processors and packaging partners," Mr Esposito said.
"The 2020-2021 growing season was a challenging year, however, we're grateful for the ongoing support of our distributors and customers who make this all possible. We look forward to developing more unique products and flavours in the future."
Challenging year, big plans
Kangaroo Island Olives has several thousand trees, all located in Nepean Bay.
It has recently put in additional plantings that include Kalamata and Ligurian cultivars and intend to continue plantings each year.
The 2020-2021 season was challenging due to a number of factors, including weather, logistics, machinery and contractor availability.
"In the near future we plan to invest in our own fully mechanised harvesting machinery, which will allow us to aggregate harvest operations and become less reliant on contractors from Adelaide," Mr Esposito said.
"Having an olive shaker dedicated to KI will give other growers the opportunity to access it, which hopefully reinvigorates some of the dormant groves."
Olives on Kangaroo Island are picked during late autumn early winter, subject mainly to ripening and weather conditions.
All secondary processing is done in Adelaide, both table olives and extra virgin olive oil
"There's strong evidence to support investment in olives on the island," he said.
"It's both an economic and environmentally sustainable agribusiness that holds great value, particularly in the table olive category.
"The key is to select the right varieties, the right harvesting method and establish your target market before the first tree in planted.
"We have an opportunity on KI to build a robust value chain focusing on all the segments of olive growing. From nursery to distribution and everything in between.
"The Island is capable of developing a sustainable, long-term olive industry."