Croatia's Istria region producing some of the world's best olive oil, say experts

BALE, Croatia (Reuters) - In just 15 years, Croatia’s Istrian peninsula in the nothern Adriatic has become one of the world’s best producers of olive oil, decorated with top industry awards.

In 2020, Istria won the Flos Olei guide’s best region in the world award for extra virgin olive oil for a 6th consecutive year. The guide is compiled by expert tasters.

“Some 15 years ago there were practically no producers of bottled olive oil in Istria and there was no expert verification of its quality,” said Denis Ivosevic from the Istrian Tourist Board.

“Now Istria has become a region where guests come also because they know what kind of olive oil they can buy.”

Some 70 small producers from Istria are assessed by the Flos Olei guide.

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Manuel Grubic, the owner of an olive oil mill in the town of Bale, said the quality of the oil is based on the work of small family producers.

“The olive harvest is done manually, they are processed immediately and the quantity produced is relatively small.”

Miroslav Pliso, a lawyer who started his small olive oil business some 20 years ago, said that a focus on quality production and the industry awards had put Istria on the map with tourists seeking good local gastronomy.

He said his output is some 2,000 litres of top quality olive oil a year.

“The price of our oil is quite high in comparison to the price of an average good quality oil which costs around 100-120 kuna per litre. We bottle the oil in the quantity of 0.25 litres and the price per litre is around 600 kuna,” he said.

Reporting by Antonio Bronic, writing by Igor Ilic, Editing by Alexandra Hudson