Saturday, 20 April 2019

Bayern Munich and Alfons Schuhbeck, Powered by Croatian Olive Oil from Chiavalon

April 20, 2019 - More success for the olive oil kings of Istria, as Chiavalon penetrates the upper echelons of German football and gastronomy. 

Looking for a happy Croatian success story which is going global? Look no further. 

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Although I have only met one of the brothers once, I am still smiling from that meeting all these years later. A Croatian success story to warm the heart and give hope to any budding entrepreneur. 

In a country where succeeding as an entrepreneur is very much the exception rather than the rule, to do so as emphatically as Tedi and Sandi Chiavalon have done, and with such positivity and such big smiles on their faces, is nothing short of remarkable. 

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And it all started looking after a few olive trees for Grandad

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We have covered the news of their many international awards, including Chiavalon extra virgin olive oil being named among the best in the world, so let's just get onto the latest news, in their own words:

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OMG?...its official! From today we are supplier of the legendary Alfons Schuhbeck. The most known german chef and his great staff will use our extra virgin olive oil in all his restaurants including the Michelin stared Alfons. Last but not least Mr. Schuhbeck will use our EVOO’s Atilio and Romano for a daily menu of FC Bayern München players and staff


Congratulations! Just one more chapter in the incredible Chiavalon story, which you can follow on our dedicated TCN page

To learn more about olive oil in Croatia, check out the Total Croatia guide

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Chiavalon Olive Oil Excellence Continues: 3-Star Award at Premio Il Magnifico

March 16, 2019 - More international recognition of Istrian olive oil excellence, as Chiavalon picks up a 3-star EQOO award in Florence.

It is one of my favourite business success stories in Croatia, and a story which keeps on growing. 

A story of how a teenage passion for the family olive trees and olive oil blossomed into a thriving business producing some of the very best olive oil in the world. From the Chiavalon website:

Ever since my earliest days, my love for olive trees grew each time I visited our little olive grove with my grandfather. I have always been fascinated by its slow growth, its beauty and the gift it gives us after all the hard work. Until 1997, we cultivated only 50 olive trees, about 300 to 400 years old. After my grandfather fell ill, there was nobody left to cultivate our olive grove, so while my peers were busy collecting football cards and riding their bikes, I had a somewhat different hobby. My only goal was to learn each and every fact about this beautiful tree and to produce extra virgin olive oil that would make my whole family happy. It was certainly not easy at the beginning – a 14-year-old, stating that he wants to work, can only get an "oh, it's just puberty" reaction. However, my family soon recognized my passion for olive trees and jumped in to help me. With time, this hobby marked my entire life and grew into our family business.

Many years later, and the passion of Sandi Chiavalon and his brother Tedi remains, and those 50 trees have mushroomed into a major business producing about 16,000 litres of high-quality olive oil each year. 

You can read about the numerous previous awards on the dedicated Chiavalon page on TCN, but now we have to add another after events in Florence last night. Perhaps this is best explained by Sandy Chiavalon himself and his Facebook post:

"Yesterday we were awarded with 3*** Extra Quality Olive Oil together with other eleven European producers by Premio il Magnifico???

"Getting the 3*** for a producer of olive oil is like getting the 3*** Michelin for a restaurant. We are so proud of this award that belongs completely to our great team."

Congratulations - again! To learn more about the amazing olive oils of Chiavalon, visit the official website

To learn more about olive oil in Croatia, check out the Total Croatia guide

Monday, 14 January 2019

Chiavalon Among the Best-Designed Olive Oils in the World

The Packaging of the World website has included the packaging design of Chiavalon olive oil, created by the Bruketa&Žinić&Grey team, among the best-designed packaging of the year. In the past ten years, Packaging of the World has grown into one of the world's leading websites dedicated to packaging design, and their projects are seen about a million readers each month, reports on January 14, 2019.

“Our family wanted to communicate more forcefully the origins of our olive oils and the blend of tradition, contemporary technology and the art of the production," said Tedi Chiavalon. "The special edition of the Chiavalon olive oil packaging is inspired by traditional architecture and art in Istria, by film, music and Vodnjan murals, combining historical and contemporary heritage."


Chiavalon is also the only olive oil in the world and the only project from the region which has been awarded at the WorldStar competition. It is a competition that exists since 1970 and is organised by the World Packaging Organization, founded in 1968 in Tokyo. This year's competition included by 35 countries, and among the award-winners are Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Sony, LG, Dove and Tetra Pak.

Chiavalon's packaging has now received five awards, including three at the international level. Previously, it has won the Croatian prize Cropak for the best packaging design, it was selected for an exhibition of Croatian design, and has won the Hiiibrand brand design award in China.

More news on the Chiavalon olive oil can be found in our Lifestyle section.

Translated from (reported by).

Friday, 11 January 2019

Istria's Chiavalon Olive Oil Conquers Global Markets

Sandi and Tedi Chiavalon have developed the most successful export brand of top-quality Istrian olive oils in the last 20 years. In an interview, they talk about the stages of their business development, the decisions that were the key to the success of the Chiavalon olive oil and the most significant export challenges, reports on January 11, 2019.

Is Croatia seen internationally as an olive-growing country, like Spain or Greece?

The perception varies significantly depending on the market segment. Experts certainly perceive Istria as a serious olive-growing region. The results and achievements in the production of the last fifteen years mean that the Istrian olive-growing is nowadays spoken about with a great deal of respect. On the other hand, we still have to work hard on the popularisation of our extra-virgin olive oils among the wider public, the consumers themselves. Branding a region, a production area, is a long-term job that we must continuously be worked on at multiple levels. This, of course, involves a strategic approach with clearly set goals in the synergy between producers, regions and all ministries – Agriculture, Tourism, Economy, Finance and Foreign Affairs.

Which olive-producing country is the best in branding?

Spain is an excellent example. In addition to Italy and Greece, Spain is undoubtedly the most famous olive-growing country. This year, they launched a major promotion campaign for their olive oils called Olive Oil World Tour. The European Commission supports the campaign. This is the way we have to go if we want to put ourselves on the global map of top-quality olive oil producers that are relevant to consumers around the world.

Are Istrian oils becoming more recognisable as compared to olive oils from Tuscany, Provence or super-premium Spanish oils?

Absolutely, our potential is growing year after year. We are achieving better and better results, and it does not go unnoticed. But for a more serious step forward, and to position Croatia and Istria as a serious olive-growing region, producers need institutional assistance and cooperation. We need a joint master plan with clear goals and specific resources and deadlines. The government should understand that olive oil is one of few Croatian agricultural products that we can say are the best or among the best in the world, and as such is a tremendous economic potential that is currently left unused.

Which phases did Chiavalon pass, from the first steps in international markets to its present status?

There were a lot of stages – sometimes planned, sometimes accidental. If I had to describe them together, I would say that the key is uncompromising work on the quality in all business segments, which we have set as the goal from the very start, and the great passion and love of our entire family towards the work we do.

What was the most important thing for success at each stage?

The unregulated market in Croatia and the impossibility of collecting receivables were probably the main triggers for us to start thinking about exports almost immediately. Another significant moment for our business was the entry of Croatia into the European Union. This has opened an enormous market which functions without administrative barriers we used to encounter, and we have used this in the best possible way. Since entering the EU, our business has increased revenues almost five times.

What would you say is the most critical element for the successful export of Croatian olive oils?

We cannot compete with large olive-growing regions in quantity and in the segment of low cost and medium-range olive oils, so we should not even try to compete there. That is why it is vital that we do not lose focus from producing premium olive oils because that is the only way to differentiate us and position us in the eyes of consumer and experts. Besides, the segment of environmentally-certified products is growing much faster than conventional production, and we certainly should encourage manufacturers to follow that route.

What are the most common mistakes we make in foreign markets?

The most significant limitation is probably the fact that we act independently as producers, without institutional support. Unlike in Italy, Spain or Greece, our producers are creating their own path and thus making a path for others from Croatia, but they are doing it with their resources and money. This is undoubtedly the most crucial obstacle to the faster and more efficient promotion of our oils on the global stage.

Your major export markets are the United States, Japan and Taiwan. Are you planning to expand to additional ones?

We are just finishing export documentation for Peru and Mexico. This will be our first step into the markets of South America. In the next period, we are intensely thinking about Russia and Switzerland, where we want to increase our presence.

Why aren’t there more producers ready to submit their oils to prestigious competitions?

Taking part in such events is very expensive, especially if you want to compete at the world's major shows. One of the ways in which the government and the ministries could assist in exporting and branding of our olive oils would be to co-finance the costs of sending samples to various events, as well as to co-finance the costs of attending special events. Other olive-growing regions have been doing this for years.

What is the goal of exporters like you, to place their oils in shops or to sell them to restaurants?

We want to reach the target audience, whether it is through direct sales, specialised stores or restaurants. Businesses which offer our olive oil must know everything about us, about our family, about our philosophy and our way of working. Our distributors must be our ambassadors, and that is why we carefully select them and improve our cooperation year after year.

How important are branding and design in your project? Have they influenced your reputation abroad?

Branding and design are essential in creating and promoting every product, including olive oil. We have worked very hard on this, and I would dare to say that we have given the branding and design the same attention as the production itself. Aside from the quality of our oils, we have received many awards for product design. We have won the prestigious Red Dot packaging award, and some of our labels are exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Essen and in Chicago. The well-conceived design definitely gives added value to the product and differentiates it in the market. We are also very interested in co-branding and co-operation efforts like the one we have with the Jeunes Restaurateurs d'Europe (JRE) in Croatia and Austria.

Could you describe the process of designing a new label and introducing a new brand to the market?

The process is always the same. We start from the idea which we develop ourselves to the smallest details. Then we give this idea to designers who have to turn it into a finished product. The process is fascinating and complex, and we have learned a lot about the basics of industrial design, technology and the problems that we will face during this process. Each product is a new challenge, but we are helped by our partners, designers, printers, packaging makers, photographers and others who are involved in creating a new product. Without them, we would not be what we are today. These are all large and small companies from Croatia, which proves that we know and can realise everything we want to.

More news on the Croatian olive oils can be found in our Lifestyle section.

Translated from

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

The Happiest Moment of the Year for a Dalmatian

November 6, 2018 - Where to find a Dalmatian at this time of year? In the field of course, for the olive harvest is in full swing. 

The olives are calling... 

The longer I live here, the more I notice that some Dalmatian ways of life have become my own these days. And although I am very happy with my continental living near Varazdin these days, the end of October traditionally brings with it one of the most important family bonding experiences for most Dalmatian families - the olive harvest. Dalmatians are rightly proud of the quality of their olive oil, and multiple generations of the same families head to the family field to start to pick the fruit of the trees that will give them their edible liquid gold for the next year. 

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We too would help with each harvest, but this has become less practical with the move up north, but a window presented itself last week with the public holiday for All Souls Day, with Friday also a day off school. A 1,000 km round trip including 4 hours sitting on ferries to pick olives over a long weekend? I was becoming Dalmatian indeed, and my father-in-law, grateful for the help of 8 extra hands, was happy to make sure I looked the part. 

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And although the extra hands did great work, the real star of this year's harvest was this little tool that he brought to the party. After decades of painstaking hand-picking, this battery-powered gem shook the olives from the trees onto the tarp below, with us holding the tarp above our heads to catch any flying ones, before hand-picking any the machine had missed. It felt a little like throwing a grenade to kill the enemy, then going to finish off any survivors with bayonets. 

Although the machine pick reduced our picking time from 10 days to 2.5 for the 80 trees, meaning we could accomplish all during the weekend, there was a tinge of sadness in this technological progress. The tradition of hand-picking olives is on the decline, but more than that, I realised just how many trees that were being harvested just a few years ago were probably not being picked this year. With the crushing emigration from Croatia and increasingly busy lives of the younger generation, not all young families are now able to help the grandparents in the field.

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The daily marenda - or late morning snack -  with home-produced goodness, laced with olive oil of course. Enough to keep the workers sated until the bigger gourmet event later in the day. I love the simplicity of eating in the field. Wine in plastic bottles, pickled goodness packed in jars and labelled. No airs or graces, just good company and great food and wine. 

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As nice as it is to be out in nature catching up with family, by day three, olive picking can begin to get a little dull. Until one experiences the euphoria of the happiest moment of the year - picking the last olive! Pure bliss.

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This is quickly followed by the second most memorable moment of the olive harvest - the only thing to decide? Meat or fish. 

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Our bodies weary, despite the help of the magic machine, we headed home feeling worthy, and with several litres of extra virgin olive to get us through the winter, and there was a VERY nice surprise upon our return - olive oil from Istria. 

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And not just any olive oil from Istria, but olive oil from Chiavalon, whose oil has been featured in the top 15 olive oils in the world. Amazing oil, amazing story - learn more about Chiavalon and their new web shop here

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Chiavalon, World's Top 15 Olive Oil Now Online, with Love from Croatia

The very name Chiavalon brings a smile to my face. 

Every time. 

As I write these words on October 28, 2018, I realise from my diary that it is almost  a year to the day since I met arguably the happiest man in all Croatia, working with a product which industry experts have judged to be not only organic healthiness personified, but among the top 15 olive oils in the whole world. 


About this time last year, I was fortunate enough to meet the olive oil phenomenon that is Chiavalon, a small Istrian family business which is getting larger by the day and touching all corners of the planet, but with a humility and dedication of two brothers who have found their calling in nature and simply love what they do. And, as luck would have it, we arrived just as the first olives of the 2017 harvest came in from the Chiavalon olive groves. You can read about last year's olive pressing experience here (and watch it in the video below). 

Chiavalon is about much more than olive oil. If you believe in karma, I suggest you visit, for there is such contentment and dedication to excellence at Chiavalon, that it really is a privilege to experience it. Here is the Chiavalon story from the official website told by Sandi Chiavalon, which tells you more than I could with my words:


"Ever since my earliest days, my love for olive trees grew each time I visited our little olive grove with my grandfather. I have always been fascinated by its slow growth, its beauty and the gift it gives us after all the hard work. Until 1997, we cultivated only 50 olive trees, about 300 to 400 years old. After my grandfather fell ill, there was nobody left to cultivate our olive grove, so while my peers were busy collecting football cards and riding their bikes, I had a somewhat different hobby. My only goal was to learn each and every fact about this beautiful tree and to produce extra virgin olive oil that would make my whole family happy." (Read more)


From those handful of olive trees all those years ago, Sandi Chiavalon explained to me last year that he was expecting about 16,000 litres of oil from the olives which would be pressed at his new state-of-the-art mill near Vodnjan. And the awards followed. As I wrote last year:

"We have written about the outstanding success of Chiavalon Extra Virgin Olive Oil several times this year, as international recognition has followed international recognition: back in March Chiavalon was awarded an extra gold medal in the category of the world's best organic extra virgin olive oil at BIOL in Italy; in August, it was named 13th best olive oil in the world by World Best Olive Oils; and in May, it was named best organic extra virgin olive oil of all at Olive Oil Award in Zurich. No disrespect to the excellent quality of my father-in-law's wonderful oil, but that is some seriously impressive recognition."


Since my visit last year, the good news has not stopped coming. Flos Olei awarded the Istrian olive oil producer 95/100 last December, placing it once more about the world's top olive oils, following its top 15 appearance for its Ex Albis in 2008. And a quick look at the Chiavalon news page shows that all is well with the two happy brothers. 


The early signs for this year's harvest are extremely encouraging. Tedi Chiavalon took a few minutes from the harvest to give a quick update earlier today:

"We are still harvesting. This year harvest is amazing! The quality of the olives is fabulous, practically we had a year without diseases. The Mlado/First of this year is a blend of buza, bianchera, Rosignola and leccino. It’s very intensive on taste, bitter and spicy and very green on smelt as is coming from the first three days of early harvest. This year we produced 2.500 bottles of it half of which are going to Japan. Our fans can order it directly from our webshop."


I have seen a LOT of family producers in Croatia who make outstanding products, but who fall down on marketing and sales. Not so with Chiavalon, whose marketing and sales strategy is among the very best in the business. The launch of the website will be great news for the growing army of gourmet fans. You can visit the online shop here, but I would really encourage you to visit Chiavalon - the karma is unforgettable. 


Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Chiavalon in Istria: Making Olive Oil with the World's Best

It is the olive harvest season in Istria. A visit to Chiavalon Extra Virgin Olive Oil, recently named in the world's top 15 producers, to watch liquid gold in motion.