Saying that producing olives in Akhisar gives life to everyone, Ayhan Sicimoğlu said, “Consuming olives means quality life, taste of life. 15 kilograms of olives are squeezed for 1 kilogram of olive oil. This work is done with love. It is not done just for the money money.”
Known as the immortal tree and mentioned in all celestial religions, the olive has started to be among the dreams of famous people. Famous artist Ayhan Sicimoğlu joined the names producing olives and olive oil. Moreover, the famed artist chose Akhisar, the capital of olives, for this. We harvested together with Ayhan Sicimoğlu in Akhisar, where olives are produced with love.
We talked about the journey of olives, which are collected from trees one by one, to our tables, with Akhisar Commodity Exchange President Alper Alhat and one of the most knowledgeable people about olives, Mustafa Alhat.
What does olives mean to you?
Ayhan Sicimoğlu: Olive means life. Producing olives and olive oil in Akhisar means life for everyone. Consuming olives and olive oil means quality life, taste of life and protecting your health. This flavor should be in every home. 15 kilos of olives are squeezed for 1 kilogram of olive oil. This work is done with love. It is not done just for the money. When olive producers look at olives, they feel love and passion.
THE BEST IS IN MY COUNTRY
How did you get into this business?
Ayhan Sicimoğlu: Olive is actually a gift of nature, God to people. We are lucky people. The Aegean is where olives and olive oil are distributed to around the world. Making the best of olive oil has been my dream for years. While there was olive oil in Italy, Spain and Greece, it was painful not to be able to eat the best of this olive oil in your own country. We wanted to prevent this, now we are trying to produce the best.
How do we know that olive oil is good?
Mustafa Alhat: First of all, bitter olive oil is not acidic or spoiled. Oil acids are not bitter but sour instead. Therefore, oils don’t get bitter while they go bad. They go sour instead. Bitterness comes from polyphenols which show that olive oil is good. If an olive oil stings your throat and tongue it shows that it is earl harvest.This means the olive oil is preserved well on contrary to being spoiled. Good olive oil leaves your mouth clean and fresh. If it makes your mouth feel oily that means olive oil is old and was left open.
THERE ARE 2650-YEAR-OLD TREES
Akhisar comes to mind when olive is mentioned, how did this happen?
Alper Alhat: There are 2650 years old olive trees here. Meaning olive was already present in the history of these lands. Today, our most grown product in Akhisar is olive with 448 per mille profit. With the plantations in the last 10 years, our olive tree number has reached 14 million and continues to increase. Although the olive is very difficult to maintain, the producer from Akhisar fell in love with the tree. They looked after it like a child, attached to it with love. Because they know that the fruit of this tree is health for everyone. That’s why they sacrificed from his home, family, wife and child. It was cold, it was raining, it was stormy, they didn’t mid and they were always by the olive trees. This love made Akhisar an olive city.
How’s the harvest this year?
Alper Alhat: Compared to last year, the yield is low in Akhisar due to seasonal reasons, but the quality is very high. I can say that the best quality olives of the last 10 years are coming. With the olive oil we will obtain with this high quality, we will exceed the low yield many times over. The important thing here is that our farmers collects every olive fruit without touching the soil. Olive and olive oil arrive to our tables with great efforts. This is such a fruit and fruit juice directly related to human health. It is rejuvenating, good for heart and cholesterol, strengthens bones, prevents many diseases, especially ulcers. However, Turkish people do not consume this enough.
WE EXPECT POSITIVE DISCRIMINATION FROM THE STATE
How does consumption increase? Alper Alhat: We are the country with the least consumption among olive producing countries. We consume 1.5 liters of olive oil per person per year. This is unacceptable. We have to increase the awareness of public on this issue. Olives and olive oil should be used in schools, hospitals and by all public. Awareness must be created. Here we expect positive discrimination from our state. If the VAT is reduced to 1 percent in retail sales, the producer price and the consumer price become similar and unregistered sales decrease. Turkish people are provided with access to healthy food at a more affordable price.