A Natural Taste from Branch to Table
About Olive


1.1. Name of Variety: Gemlik

Synonyms: Trilye, lllleasasas, Kıvırcık, Kar

Range: Its habitat ranges a wide area that include many provinces of Turkey such as Bursa, Tekirdağ, Kocaeli, Bilecik, Kastamonu, Zonguldak, Sinop, Samsun, Trabzon, Balıkesir, İzmir, Manisa, Aydın, İçel, Adana, Antalya, Adıyaman.

This variety constitutes 80% of the tree existence in the Marmara Region and 11% of the total number of olive trees. In terms of number, it ranks 3rd after Memecik and Ayvalık varieties. It develops in medium strength. The fruit is medium in size. It gives regular products under good maintenance conditions and is efficient, partially self-pollinating, partially resistant to cold. It is reproduced from cuttings. It is widely used in Turkey especially in the production of Natural Black olives. 

1.2. Name of Variety: Edincik Su

Synonyms: Erdek su, Su zeytini

Range: Bandırma, Edincik and Erdek districts of Balıkesir Province in Turkey

Total number of olive trees: 30.000. It is considered a black table olive. It has high water content and low oil content. It develops in medium strength with large fruit and shows periodicity. The variety offers a medium yield. The fruit’s skin is very fragile and can be bruised easily at harvest. It can be reproduced by grafting or cuttings.

 1.3. Name of Variety: Edremit (Ayvalık)

Synonyms: Edremit Yağlık, Şakran, Midilli, Ada olive

Range: Çanakkale, Aegean Region, Bay region, İzmir, İçel, Antalya, as far as Adana, Kahramanmaraş and Mardin.

It constitutes 19% of the total number of olive trees and 25.3% of the Aegean Region. Oil produced from this variety ranks first in terms of chemical and sensory properties. In its original region, the variety is mainly evaluated as oil olives. The tree grows strongly under good maintenance conditions with medium-sized moderate periodicity fruits. The tree’s construct allows for mechanical harvesting. It provides a good yield and is self-pollinating, partially resistant to cold and is reproduced by cuttings,

1.4. Name of Variety: Domat

Synonyms: Akhisar

Range: Manisa’s Akhisar, Turgutlu and Saruhanlı, İzmir’s Central, Kemalpaşa and Selçuk districts, Aydın’s Central, Söke, Karacasu and Kuyucuk districts.

It constitutes %1,4 of the total number of olive trees. It is evaluated as green table olives and especially filled olives. The tree grows strongly under good maintenance conditions. It provides large fruits and stable yield especially under good maintenance conditions. The variety bear fruit early, it is sensitive to cold especially in late irrigation practices. It is reproduced by grafting.

1.5. Name of Variety: Karamürsel Su

Synonyms: Su zeytin, Kalamata

Range: Karamürsel, Kocaeli’s Karamürsel, Gebze, Gölcük districts and around Bursa Province.

The total number of olive trees is 200,000. Since it contains very little oleuropein, it gains taste easily during processing. Its oil rate is low. It is processed as black table under the name of Kalamata olives. It develops in medium strength, its fruits are very large, it shows periodicity, its yield is good but is sensitive to cold, it is reproduced with grafting and cuttings.


 1.6. Name of Variety: Memecik

Synonyms: Taş arası, Aşıyel, Tekir, Gülümbe, Şehir, Yağlık.

Range: A very large geography including Muğla, İzmir, Aydın, Manisa, Denizli, Antalya, Sinop down to as far as Kahramanmaraş and Kastamonu.

It constitutes more than 50% of olive trees of Aegean Region and %45,5 of all olive trees in Turkey. It can be used table olives or oil olives. In terms of quality, it is bested only by Ayvalık variety. It is processed into Spanish style green olive. It’s pits has a high germination rate. The tree grows strongly under good maintenance conditions and has large fruits and usually show severe periodicity, it is a fertile, partially self-pollinating tree which is slightly vulnerable to cold and drought. It is reproduced by grafting and cuttings.

1.7. Name of Variety: Uslu

Synonyms: Akhisar

Range: Akhisar and Turgutlu districts of Manisa, Kemalpaşa and Selçuk districts of İzmir and Central and Yatağan districts of Muğla.

There are around 900,000 trees. It constitutes 1% of Turkey’s total olive trees. It is preferred as black table olives because of the bright dark black color and taste of the fruits at full maturity. It grows very strongly under irrigated conditions, its fruits are medium-sized, it yields regular crops under good maintenance conditions, its yield is medium, it is sensitive to cold, the fruit can be bruised easily at harvest, it is reproduced by grafting and cuttings.


1.8. Name of Variety: Çekişte

Synonyms: Kırma, Memeli

Range: Kiraz, Torbalı and Ödemiş Districts of Izmir, Nazilli, Sultanhisar and Yenipazar districts of Aydın province. With a total number of 1.3 million trees, it constitutes %1,5 of the total olive trees. It is mostly used as green table olives which are mostly prepared in crashed form. It grows very strongly, the fruit is large, it can yield regular products under good care conditions, it is efficient, not sensitive to cold, it is reproduced by grafting and cuttings.

1.9. Name of Variety: Çelebi

Synonyms: İznik Çelebi

Range: Gemlik, İznik and Orhangazi Districts of Bursa, Central and Golcuk districts of Kocaeli and Central, Osmaneli and Gölpınarı districts of Bilecik.

It constitutes 5% of the Marmara Region with around 400,000 trees. It is mostly used as green table olives. It develops in medium strength, the fruit is very large, shows partial periodicity, moderately productive, not extremely sensitive to cold, it is reproduced by grafting.

In addition to these varieties, some of the other varieties used as table olives are: Yamalak Kabası, Manzanilla, Memeli, Samanlı, Sarı Ulak,  Tavşanyüreği, Büyük topak Ulak, Çilli, Eğriburun, İzmir Sofralık, Kan çelebi, Kiraz, Sarı Haşebi, Saurani

Turkey hosts approximately 88 different varieties of olives both for table and oil uses.

·      Gemlik, Edincik su, Karamürsel su, Çelebi, Samanlı are varieties of Marmara region.

·      Edremit (Ayvalık), Domat, Memecik, Uslu, Memeli, Manzanilla, Çilli, Çekişte, Kiraz, İzmir are main table varieties of olive in Aegean region.

·      Tavşanyüreği, Büyük topak ulak, Sarı Ulak are varieties of Mediterranean Region.

·      Kan Çelebi, Halhalı, Eğriburun, Saurani, Sarı Haşebi , Kalembezi are varieties of Southeastern Anatolia Region.


Degrees of Maturity of Olive Fruit

The olives are harvested in different degrees of maturity according to the style of processing. There are three different degrees of maturity. These are:


Green Olive

Refers to fruits that are harvested when they reach their normal size and at the beginning of the ripening period. Their color varies between green to yellowish green.

Green olives can be processed in a wide variety of ways. They are processed in Spanish style (processed olive) or filled, whole, crushed or naturally processed or as broken, scratched, whole olive, etc.             


Discolored Olives

Means the fruits harvested during color changing periods when they are in different colors such as pink, red, wine colored, light brown, etc. before full maturation.

Discolored olives are often processed into whole, natural, scraped, crushed olives or into processed black olive which is darkened by oxidation.  


Black Olives

It defines fruits that are harvested at or just before full ripening, in black or blackish, dark purple, greenish black, dark brown or reddish black to violet black colors.

Black olives are mostly used for Natural Black Table Olive production. However, it can also be used in the production of Kalamata type, confit type olives.

Whole Fruit Olives

Olives marketed whole with their pits intact.


Crushed Olives

Whole olives mechanically crushed for processing


Scratched Olives

Whole olives the skins of which are scratched for processing


Pitted Olives

Whole olive the pits of which are removed


Sliced Olives

Olives obtained by slicing after removal of pits from the whole olives


Filled Olives

After removal of pits from the whole olives, the hollow is filled with different fillings such as pickled red paper, carrot, anchovy, pimiento paste, almond, pickled garlic, cappers, etc.


Salad olives

A product obtained by mixing or marinating olives with different sauces, spices or other edible ingredients, with or without flavor.


Half-cut olives

Olives vertically cut in two halves after removal of pits


A-quarter-cut olives

Olives cut once in vertical and once in horizontal axes into four pieces after removal of pits


Hurma olives

Depending on the variety and ecological conditions, some olives does not require fermentation and reach edible maturity while still on the tree, these are called hurma (date in Turkish) olives in Turkey.


Additives used in Olive Cultivation 

Prepared and put on the market in various ways, it is critical for the olives to be processed in full accordance with the national and international communiques, regulations and directives (Codex al., IOC directives, communiques and regulations on Turkish Food Codex) in all stages of preparation such as debittering, fermentation and packaging).

During production, one of the most critical considerations is respecting the allowable limit value values for the additives required for preparation of the olives.

Some of the additives allowed to be used for preparation of table olives are described below:



The salt used for preparation of the brine. It is used in form of sodium chloride (NaCl) solution in potable water which is required for preservation and maturation of the olives. Sea salt is commonly used in olive cultivation. Rock salt or lake salt are used less frequently. It is important to use a type of salt that is free of impurities, clean and odorless. Despite the fact that there is no restriction for its use, the salt should be used carefully in the process due to the limitations applied on the whole table olives by TFC Table Olive Communiqué.


Lactic acid

It is an organic acid used to adjust the acidity of the brine or to reduce the pH value to desired values during fermentation. It is biologically obtained through the fermentation of high sugars or sugary fruits. As it prevents the growth of undesirable microorganisms by lowering the pH value, it functions both as an acidity regulator as well as a "preservative". It is recommended to use as required by the process and there is no limitation for its use. It is widely used in naturally processed olives.


Acetic acid 

Acetic acid is the main acid component in vinegars. Its concentration in commercial vinegars is around 4-6%. Acetic acid is used as a preservative in vinegar form. It also has a widespread use in olive cultivation (especially in kalamata type olives) as a pH and acidity regulator.


Citric acid

Citric acid was first isolated from citrus fruit and produced in crystal form. Lemon juice contains 6-8% citric acid. Therefore, the lemon constitutes the main raw material for citric acid production. It is industrially produced by fermentation of sugary fruits or of highly concentrated sugar solutions (e.g. molasses solutions). Citric acid does not exhibit any toxicity since it is an acid of biological origin which is synthesized in human body.


Calcium chloride (E509)

It is used in olive production to enhance durability of the product by hardening of the fruit. There are different forms such as calcium lactate and calcium citrate. A maximum of 1500 mg/kg is used in brine.


Ferrogluconate (E579)

It is used as a color stabilizer in black olives (confit type) darkened by oxidation. Also available in ferrolactate form. The maximum allowable amount is 150 mg/kg.


Sorbic acid and salts (E200, E202)

It is an additive used as a food preservative against bacteria, mold and yeast. It is on the food additives list with the code E200. It is widely used as a food preservative, as it has antimicrobial properties. The maximum limit allowed for table olives is 1000 ppm. It is used very effectively against a large number of micro-organisms. Sodium sorbate, calcium sorbate, potassium sorbate (E202) are sorbic acid salts that prevent the growth of mold and yeast.      


Sodiumbenzoate (E211)

Sodium benzoate is one of the sodium salts of benzo acid. It is a chemical substance used in the food industry as a food additive. It is coded as E211 in foodstuffs. Sodium benzoate is a food additive chemical obtained by neutralization of benzoic acid with sodium bicarbonate, sodium carbonate or sodium hydroxide. Sodium benzoate does not occur naturally in nature, it can be obtained as a derivative of benzoic acid. Benzoic acid, from which sodium benzoate originates, is naturally found in many plants and animals.

It is used as an antimicrobial preservative in olive products if the products are not subjected to heat treatment.

As sodium benzoate dissolves in water, it is used in olive production as dissolved in brine. The maximum allowable limit value is 1000 ppm for olive products. When used with sodium bicarbonate, potassium sorbate or sorbic acid, the maximum allowable limit value for each of these chemicals is 500 ppm.


1.2. Composition of olive fruit







Crude Protein


Crude Cellulose


Ash (minerals)


Carbohydrates (glucose and others)



Less than 1

Aromatic substances

Less than 1

Coloring substances

Less than 1


Less than 1


Less than 1


Less than 1


Olive is a main nutrient for mankind as its edible oil content can reach up to 33%. It provides a balanced nutrition with the vitamins, minerals, proteins and flavorings it contains. Although low protein content, the food quality of olive is high since it contains all the amino acids. Oleuropein, one of the aromatic substances of olives, which shows itself in the form of bitterness in the olive, prevents the consumption of olives directly after harvest. It is known that as a result of lactic acid fermentation or hydrolysis with alkali, oleuropein is converted and aromatic substances are formed in its place. Coarse fiber is found in olives in a balanced way which facilitates digestion. Other components included in olive are Ca, Fe, Mg as minerals; Provitamin A, Vitamin C and Thiamin from the vitamins group. Besides all this information, it should not be forgotten that the components of the fruit flesh vary from variety to variety. Also, cultural practices, soil characteristics, harvest, climatic events and fruit ripeness etc. makes it impossible to achieve the exact composition of the olive even for the olives from the same variety. 

Let’s start with botanic: Scientifically, the story of olive starts within the genus: "oleaeeae". “Olea” is a wild fruit tree from the same family as ornamental plants such as lilac and jasmine. About 30 different species of "Olea" have been identified in the world. "Olea europea" is one of them and the most important one! There are two main subspecies of "olea europea" whose homeland is the Eastern Mediterranean: "Olea europea oleaster" (wild) and "olea europea sativa" (domesticated).

The oil extracted from the fruit of the olive first brightened our nights, blessed our temples, relaxed our souls, then beautified our hair and skin, rubbed, developed and cleaned our bodies and finally became the crown of our kitchen. However, there is no consensus among archaeobotanists, historians, and archaeologists as to how old the wild olive tree, which dates back to prehistoric times, and exactly where its homeland is. According to De Candolle and Pelletier, Anatolia, Syria and Iran according to some Crete, Greece, perhaps North Africa, Atlas Mountains, Lower Egypt... Moreover, there are different opinions about where and by whom the wild olives were first domesticated and where they spread..


Oldest alphabets of the world naturally reflect the agricultural societies in which they were born: "Alpha" (A/pha) represented ox, "beta" (Beth) home, "gama" (Gama) camel and "zeta" (Zat) represented olive. In Akkadian language, word zertum or zeir­tum meant both the olive tree and olive fruit. In religious ceremonies, their fruit and the oil (zertium) obtained from it, along with other fruits such as grapes and figs, were offerings for gods. Zai became zait in Hebrew, and zaitun in Arabic. Even today, Arabs call old and enormous trees zeitun er-Rum (Roman olive tree). Turkey, who came to Anatolia from Central Asia called the olive first “zeytOn” and then finally “zeytin”.

People in Crete called the olive e/aiwa while their kin on Greece called it e/aia.  The Roman adopted the name o/eo first and then oliva while the French and the English used olive. The Greek word e/aia is derived from Semitic word u/u. U/u meant oil in Semitic Hebrews. As for the word olive oil, the Greeks' e/aion became o/eum in Rome, but the Italians converted it to oli and French heile, the English oil and Spanish, with reference to Arabic word az-zeit (olive juice) aceite.

Thousands of years not hundred!

Oleaster, the thorny, small-fruit wild olive tree, was part of the natural vegetation of the Eastern Mediterranean basin 10 thousand years ago. However, due to a) fossilized olive leaves unearthed in the Mongardino region of Italy, b) fossils of olive branches determined to be from the Paleolithic period in North Africa and c) wild olive tree branches from the chalcolithic period in Spain, there are arguments in the western world that this tree has been around for 12 thousand years ago. Despite the olive tree fossils found in the Peloponnesian Peninsula in the north of Greece and dating back to 2000 BC, fossilized olive grains unearthed on the island of Santorini in the Aegean, and especially the age of olive leaves, according to some experts, date back to 37,000 years ago. Easier said than done: Olive is 39.000 years old! However, the existence of the wild olive tree does not mean that olive production had also been carried out.

On the other hand, the existence of olive trees and culture in the region stretching from the South Caucasus to Iran, from here to the shores of Syria and Palestine in the Mediterranean, exacerbates these discussions. It is most likely that the original home of the olive, and at least olea europea, is Southeastern Anatolia and especially the triangle of Mardin, Maraş and Hatay. However, wild olive trees (called “delice” in Turkish [Eng. “Mad”]) can be found various regions of Anatolia, for example, in Antalya and İçel at skirts of the Taurus Mountains in the south, in Muğla or in Aydın Çine in the west. They even form forests in Bafa and Kuşadası regions; they literally swarm every corner in İzmir Çeşme, and appear in places further north to Çanakkale, Balıkesir and Bursa. But on the other hand, olive tree, at least in its wild family, is rarely or never found in other olive growing regions unless planted by man. Considering that only 10 percent of the unique archaeological riches of Anatolia, which has hosted many civilizations, have been brought to light up-until today, it is obvious that every new discovery related to olive trees and olive cultivation will facilitate the defense of this view.

But one thing is very clear: the wild olive oleaster was first “tamed” by grafting and tuned into domesticated Saliva approximately 4.000 B.C.E. in Anatolia, Eastern Mediterranean and Asia Minor   roughly starting from Adana and Gaziantep moving along Mediterranean coast along Syria, Lebanon, Israel and its hinterland. And most likely the Semite achieved this miracle.

Six thousand years of harvesting

So, thousands of years ago, which human being succeeded in grafting this wild tree to obtain more abundant, less bitter, larger and oily olive fruits, and use it in daily life by squeezing its oil? Scientifically, no one knows for sure, except legends, there are only assumptions. Jose M. Blazquez, the author of the internationally renowned World Olive Encyclopedia, defends the view that "Olive cultivation started in Anatolia about six thousand years ago" and points out that among the peoples who lived in this region in ancient times, only the Assyrians and Babylonians did not have knowledge about olive cultivation. But the first to domesticate olives must have been those who lived on the crossroads of Syria and Iran in Asia Minor, the cradle of civilizations where many fruit trees such as grapes, figs, pomegranates and dates were first grown: i.e. Persians and Mesopotamians, Syrians and Palestinians. As a matter of fact, the oldest remains of olive cultivation in the Near East go back to the chalcolithic period (3700-3200 BC) in Israel and Jordan, strengthening this thesis.

Thanks to their agricultural and commercial skills these peoples grafted wild olive trees, took good care of them and converted them into a cultivated plant which has more leaves which yield more oil. Then they propagated them all along the coastal Mediterranean region and beyond.

Olive has become a cultivated plant in around 4000 B.C.E. However, another 1.500-2.000 years were needed for squeezing it and extracting oil. Indeed, the widespread use of olive in the Mediterranean in the Bronze Age is not only evident from olive seeds, but also in the oil presses, preserved vessels as well as the artistic pieces indicated on vases and frescoes.  In the region called “the Fertile Crescent”, especially the olive oil from the commercial center Palmira located between the rivers Euphrates and the Asi has gained fame. Olive culture expanded towards both coasts of the Mediterranean through the Phoenicians living on the coasts of Syria and Lebanon, first the olive oil trade and then the olive culture carried by seedlings, first to Egypt in the south between 2600-1600 BC, to Greece in the west through Cyprus, Crete and Anatolia in 1400-1200 BC and finally to Libya and Tunisia in North Africa in 700 BC. It reached the Sicilians, then the Romans, and from them the French, the Spanish, and finally the Portuguese, via the Syrakusa colony that the Greeks established with the revenues generated by olive oil and wine in the 8th century BC. Naturally, it is impossible to have certainty and correct chronological order of these dates.  According to some historians, who claim that the Cretans knew the olive well before these dates, even at 3.000 B.C., the Italians first encountered the olive as early as 1200s B.C.E. Some argue that the olives were brought to Italy not from Greece, but from Tripoli or Tunisia during the reign of Emperor Lucius Tarquinius (616-578 BC): When the Romans conquered North Africa, the local Berber people had already known how to graft wild olive trees and developed the culture. While each new archaeological discovery opens new horizons for researchers, it also leads to the questioning of many views that have been adopted previously. For example, in the cave paintings discovered in 1957 in the mountainous area of the Tassili region in the southern Sahara which are thought to have been made in 5000 BC - 2000 BC, depict human figures wearing crones made of olive branches does prove that the locals were no strangers to olive!


  1. Tree Population in Turkey and in the World


Table 1. The number of trees and production quantities by years in Turkey










Number of trees (Thousand)

Production (tons)



Carpogenic (Fruit bearing)

Acarporgenic (Fruitless)


Table Olive

Oil Olive














































































Graph 1. Olive Tree Population in Turkey

The olive tree population of Turkey, which had been below 100 million in early 2000s, has reached around 171 million trees as of 2015. This number continues to increase thanks to ongoing reproduction and support efforts.


Table 2. Olive Planting Areas (ha)
On 1995, the total planting area of olive trees in Turkey was around 543 bin hectares. As of 2014, this figure reached 938 thousand hectares. By the total surface area of olive planting, Turkey ranks 5th in the world.

  1. Table Olive Production in Turkey and in the World

An average of 2.582.000 tons of table olives are produced in the world. Spain takes the lead with an average of 531,000 tons of table olive production. Egypt has moved to second place thanks to recent efforts in terms of production amount. Turkey ranks 3rd with a 4 years’ average of 412,000 tons of table olives (Table 3).

Table 3. Table Olive Production Amounts in the World (thousand tons)

Graph 2. Table Olive Production in Turkey

As can be seen from Figure 2, the table olive production in Turkey has showed an increasing tendency since 1996. As of 2011, it is seen that the average table olive production in Turkey is over 390,000 tons. This figure reached 433,000 tons in the last harvest year, 2016/2017.

  1. Table Olive Consumption in Turkey and in the World

As indicated on the Table 4 in terms of table olive consumption, Algeria takes the 1st place followed by Egypt (2nd) and Turkey (3rd).

A large portion of the table olives produced in Algeria, Egypt and Turkey is consumed in domestic markets. Table olive is most intensively consumed in countries close to the Middle East.

Table 4. Table Olive Consumption (thousand tons)

  1.  Table Olive Exports in Turkey and the World

The most important table olive producer countries of the world get significant foreign currency inputs by exporting a significant part of their production. The most remarkable among the top table olive exporter countries is Argentina, which holds an important place in the market despite not having a significant production amount. Turkey, which consumes large part of its production on the domestic market, export markets include the US, Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, Saudi Arabia and is located in Germany.

Table 5. Table Olive Export (thousand tons)
Turkey ranks 4th place in table olive exports of the world while Spain ranks 1st followed by 2nd Egypt and 3rd Morocco which produce respectively an average of 200.000 tons, 91.000 tons and 77.400 tons in last 4 years.


What is caliber?

  • Caliber is defined as the number of fruits in 1 kg of olives. It is also called “degree”.
  • It refers to average size of each olive fruit.
  • As the caliber increases numerically, the fruit size decreases, meaning the fruits become smaller.
  • As the fruit size increases, the olive quality becomes higher.
  • The fruit sizes are referenced to the following table:
  • Annex.2.

    Degrees of olive fruits (pieces/kg)






































                 Note 1 - The size / degree of olive fruit increases by fifty after 410.

                 Note 2 – Two consecutive calibers can be used by combining.

                Note 3- The number of olive fruits is inversely proportional to the size of the fruit. As the fruits gets bigger, the number of fruits per kilogram decreases. 


1. Taste, odor properties

  • Table olives should have a taste and odor suitable for their style and should not contain foreign flavors and odors.
  • Table olives should have a suitable edible maturity.
  • Table olives cannot be rancid and moldy
  • Natural olives have more fruit flavor, may taste slightly bitter


2. Physical defects

  • Table olives are classified in terms of physical defects according to TS774 Table Olive Standard. The classification table is given below.
  • Olive cannot contain foreign matter. However, the amount of substances such as kernels, leaves, stems, olive flesh and filling materials that should not be included in the calculation of the product due to production technology. Maximum 5 defects per 100 grams is acceptable.




Acceptable number of defects in 100 olive fruits¹  (pieces)

Skin defect

Flesh defect



Insect holes


Stem (Is not applied to olives served with stems)















Black olive















Olive darkened by oxidation















Green-decolored olives















S1: Class 1















S2: Class II















¹: Under no circumstances should the total number of defects in both classes exceed the tolerance limits given below..

Class 1: % 10








Class II: % 15












3. Chemical Properties

  • The pH value and salt (NaCl) content amounts of table olives put on the market as prepackaged shall be in accordance with the values given in Table 1. These values are calculated at in the mesocarp (fleshy part).
  • If the salt content in olives is up to 4 grams in 100 grams, these olives can be designated as "less salty".


                            Table 1 – Olive salt and pH values



According to processing method

  % Salt (Max)

 pH (Max)














Processed olives

































Natural Olives


































Note: (1)Above values do not apply to hurma olives.

Note: (2) In the Table 1, the following abbreviations has the following meanings;

MAP: Olives packed in a modified atmosphere,

K: Olives that are not heat treated with or without the addition of preservatives, which are permitted to be used in the Turkish Food Codex Food Additives Regulation,

P: Pasteurized olives,

S: Olives that are sterilized.


Methods of Processing the Table Olives:

The table olives are classified according to the method of processing as follows:


Natural olive

According to the Table Olive Communiqué of Turkish Food Codex, the natural olive is defined as “Green, decolored or black olives prepared in dry salt or brine by processing in full or partial fermentation without the use of alkali, and preserved with or without acidity regulators”.


Natural pickled black/decolored olives 

In this process, black or decolored olives are fermented in brine under pressure to mature.


Process Steps:

Harvest and Transportation

Screening and sorting


Brining and press

Fermentation and taste acquiring process

Selection, classification and packaging


Natural brined green / decolored olives

This process consists the steps on brining the green and/or decolored olives whether in whole, scratched or crushed form and then fermenting the same to acquire taste according to sales schedule or periodically refreshing the brine to acquire taste.


Process Steps:

Harvest and Transportation

Screening and sorting




Fermentation and taste acquiring process

Selection, classification and packaging


Natural Basket Olives

This classification refers to the black olives with wrinkled outer surface which are fermented by mixing with salt in layer by layer to reach edible taste and which are harvested in full maturity.


Process Steps:

Harvest and Transportation

Screening and sorting

Tucking with salt and putting in barrels

 Addition of corn oil 

Sealing the barrels

Turning the barrel at certain intervals / taste acquiring process                                                          

Moving the olives from barrel to baskets



Natural Dried Olives

These are the flavored and wrinkled olives obtained during or after the sweetening process of naturally pickled olives or after the processes of sweetening the raw olives by removing moisture in drying ovens. Dried olives are classified and selected-sorted before packaging after these processes.


Processed Olives

According to Turkish Food Codex Communiqué on Table Olives, the processed olive is defined as “Green, decolored or black olives prepared in dry salt or brine by processing in full or partial fermentation without the use of alkali, and preserved with or without acidity regulators”.


Processed pickled green olives

Green olives which are harvested when their color start to turn yellow, are processed with caustic alkali (2/3 or close-to-pit processing) and so their bitterness is sweetened. Afterwards, alkali is completely removed from the olives with a special washing for the type / style. The olives given fermentation brine are left to the process of sweetening. In this process, some chemical parameters of olives and brine are controlled, and the conditions required for a healthy fermentation are monitored and the ideal conditions of this process are provided by adding additives such as salt and lactic acid.

Harvest and transportation




Screening and sorting






Alkali processing



Washing processes






Fermentation in brine



Fermentation monitoring



Selection, classification and packaging




  1. Oxidized Olives

According to the Turkish Food Codex Communiqué on table olives, olives blackened by oxidation are “Olives obtained by treating green, black or colored olives with alkali, blackening by oxidation and used with or without fermentation” 

These olives are usually harvested during transition from yellow to purple/black and stored in fermentation containers. Taken out of containers according to the production schedule, these olives are taken into oxidation tanks where they are processed with alkali. Oxygen is fed into these tanks during processing and afterwards, during washing process, CO2 is introduced to neutralize. After treating with caustic and washing a stabilizer agent is added to the brine to ensure color stabilization. Meanwhile, their color becomes darker and ready for packaging.



Harvest and transportation





Screening and sorting


Fermentation/conservation brine  




Oxidation tank






Alkali treatment


Washing and CO2  treatment



Color Stabilization


Selection and sorting







  1. Processed dried olives

According to Turkish Food Codex Communiqué on Table Olives these are defined as “black olives the bitterness of which is eliminated by use of alkali which are dried by removal of humid content with proper techniques” .


  1. Differences between natural olive processing method with other methods

1.3.1. Advantages

  • Thanks to natural processing techniques, no chemical additives are used except salt and organic acid.
  • It has a special aromatic flavor as a result of preserving the phenolic taste and components specific to olives at the maximum level thanks to these processing techniques.           
  • It is a more valuable foodstuff in terms of the nutrients it contains due to the minimum loss of polyphenolic substances (color and taste components) which contain anti-carcinogen properties.


  1. Disadvantages: 
  • Since the natural methods are used, the taste acquiring process takes longer than other methods and hence the inventory costs are higher.
  • The weight loss as a result of the processing technique
  • These methods require more labor and similar additional input costs


  1. 1.            Packaging of table olives

    1.1. What is Packaging?

    Packaging can be defined as the overall name of a complex system that protects the products from external factors, and ensures that the products do not lose their properties until they are used, as well as carrying out functions such as transportation, storage, distribution, promotion, advertising, marketing, etc.

    In today’s market, the packaging is not only for protecting and selling the product but also for showing the sensitivity and respect shown to the environment. New packaging technologies are developed with a regard to their impacts on the environment. The products now have the facility to show their respect to the nature start from the production to distribution and to waste management.

    1.2.         Main Functions of Packaging

    •             Protection: Mechanical protection / Prevention of product deterioration / Prevention of contamination to the product / Extension of shelf life

    •             Providing integrity

    •             Information: Product identification, preparation, usage method / Nutritional value / Storage conditions / Safety conditions / Contact information / Lifetime / Traceability with batch number

    •             Convenience: It is closely related to transportation, storage and use. This function ends in the hands of the consumer.

    •             Sales: The packaging product sells by attracting the attention of the consumers, protecting the product and making the product useful. Packaging is a kind of silent seller..

    1.3.        Criteria to be considered in packaging selection

    •             Ensuring the stability of food against chemical, biochemical and microbiological reactions that spoil food.

    •             Determining the degree of need to protect the foodstuff by the packaging material.

    •             Determining the environmental conditions that food can be exposed to during storage and distribution

    •             The suitability of the packaging to the selected food preservation method.

    •             For example, if food is to be heat treated, the degree to which the package will withstand heat treatment is important. Similarly, in the case of freezing storage, the packaging should be able to perform even under the temperature of the deep freezer.

    •             Evaluation of structure and composition of the packaging materials as well potential impacts on the quality and security of packaged food as a result of contents that can migrate to the food

    •             Compliance of food contact packaging materials with legal regulations

     1.4.        Types of packaging used in olive oil sector

    •             Glass packaging

    •             Tin packaging

    •             Plastic and plastic-based packaging

    •             Multi-layer packaging materials

    •             Paper, cardboard and corrugated cardboard packaging

    There are 3 types of packaging methods that are frequently used in the olive sector:

    •             Modified Atmosphere Packaging

    •             Tin can and glass container packaging

    •             Packaging in plastic containers

    1.4.1. Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP)

    •             MAP, which stands for Modified atmosphere packaging, is a method that involves expelling the air that may be in the packaging of the products and replacing it with a mixture of nitrogen and carbon dioxide.

    •             The reason why nitrogen is used in MAP processes is that this gas is insoluble in water and oils, thus it prevents the growth of microorganisms.

    It is an ideal "filling" gas to prevent wrinkling of the packaging and any possible damage to sensitive products.

    •             As it replaces oxygen, it prevents or retards oxidation reactions such as rancidity in food products and prevents occurrence of bad taste and odor.

    •             The protective properties of the packaging are increased by combining the superior properties of the laminated materials. The materials used must be suitable for contact with food and must not pose a health risk.

    •             Due to the materials used, the product can be pasteurized in package, thus ensuring the healthy preservation of the product throughout its shelf life without any deformation.

    1.4.2. Tin and Glass Containers

    •             Corrosion resistant cans thanks to lacquering according to the properties of the food (pH) are frequently used.

    •             Both packages are preferred for providing safe shelf life thanks to hermetic sealing (creating vacuum in the head gap) and heat treatment applicability.

    •             There are aspects of this type of packaging that must be kept under control. These are: product/liquid ratio, head gap volume, safe closing parameters, efficiency of the heat treatment applied.

    1.4.3. Plastic Packaging

    •             Plastic packaging has a very wide range of use. Plastic can be applied in packaging through various methods.

    •             Plastics that are suitable for heat treatment can be formed into packages without requiring protective additives. However, various antimicrobial chemicals must be used for those that are not suitable for heat treatment. For this reason, the latter has a shorter shelf life compared to heat treated ones.

    •             Some advantages of this type are; it is reusable, it is lighter and more easily handled compared to the glass packaging, it offers a more flexible structure further facilitating handling.

    •             Thanks to the R&D studies to increase the performance of plastic materials in product protection, multi-layer plastic packaging has begun to be used in the food market. This type of packaging has also found use in the table olive industry.

    1.4.4. Overview of the Food Packaging Industry in Turkey

    •             Although the use of glass and tin packaging is rather more common in Turkey, there is a tendency towards plastic packaging.

    •             The plastic packaging is generally preferred without heat treatment because of the operating conditions and the cost of materials resistant to heat treatment, which preference in return reduces the resistance of the product during its shelf life.

    •             For example, in the olive sector, consumers mostly prefer vacuum packaged products, bucket products or bowls.

    •             Films used in vacuum packaging are mostly produced from materials that are not resistant to heat treatment, the strength of which is tried to be increased by addition of protective chemicals. The products packaged in this way often face the problem of mold before their shelf life expires thus requiring product recalls.

    •             Although high barrier vacuum packaging film production technology has developed and become widespread in recent years, it is still less preferable due to use of unsafe products for heat treatment as well as the material costs it requires.

    1.4.5. Properties that packaging used in food should have

    •             The conformity of the components of the materials to the criteria of Turkish Standards must be confirmed by the analysis certificates to be requested from the suppliers.

    •             Food compatibility documents must be requested from suppliers for each batch of product purchase.

    •             Labeling information should be made in accordance with the relevant communiqué of the Turkish Food Codex and updated in every revision.

    •             The resistance of the products during the shelf life should be guaranteed by combining the protective properties of the packages with the processes applied during production..

    1.4.6. Why Chose Packaged Table Olives?

    •             Packaged products are produced through a regulated process

    •             The packaged product carries brand assurance and is a safer product

    •             The components of the packaged product are indicated on the label

    •             The production and expiry dates are known

    •             The storage conditions of the packaged product are specified

     1.5.        Labeling of Table Olives

    The labeling information of table olives is regulated according to the provisions of the Labelling Regulation of the Turkish Food Codex and those of the Table Olive Communiqué.

    1.            Obligations under labeling regulation

    •             The labeling cannot refer to any properties that the food actually does not have. No particular component or nutritional element or lack thereof shall be highlighted in a way that misleads the consumer.

    •             Information on the labels must be accurate, clear and easy to understand for the consumer.

    •             Following information is required to be shown on the label Name of food, ingredient list, net amount of food, recommended consumption date, any particular storage and/or usage conditions, name or trade name and address of the food business operator, its business registration number, country of origin of the food as well as all relevant nutritional information.

    •             The name of the food and its net amount should be placed within the same field of view on the label.

    2.            Rules to be followed according to the Table Olive Communiqué;

    •             The product name of the table olives is supported by the names designated according to the processing type, maturity degree and product type. The process type shall be written in letters of a font size equal to the product name.

    •             Table olives are classified according to the degree of maturity of the olive fruit as follows:

    a) Green olives

    b) Decolored/pink olives

    c) Black olives

    Table olives are classified according to the processing method as follows:

    a) Natural Olives

    1) Natural pickled olives

    2) Olives pickled in basket

    3) Natural dried olives

    b) Processed Olives

    1) Olives darkened by oxidation

    2) Processed dried olives

    3) Processed pickled olives

    Table olives are classified according to the product type as follows:

    a) Whole Olives

    1) Whole Olives

    2) Crushed Olives

    3) Scratched Olives

    b) Pitted Olives

    1) Pitted olives

    2) Sliced olives

    3) Half olives

    4) Quarter olives

    5) Cut olives

    6) Chopped olives

    c) Filled olives

    d) Hurma olives

    e) Salad olives

    •             The subclassification of processing types of the table olives (basket, pickled, dried, oxidizing darkened, etc.) as well as product types shall be indicated right under the product name on the label. If more than one process is applied for the preparation, all processes must be indicated)

    •             The variety type of the olives cannot be used as product name.

    •             For the filled olives, the product name shall be formulated with the filling material’s name.

    •             For salad olives, the olive ratio shall be indicated on the same face with the product name in the form of “contains …% olives).

    •             The number of fruits per 1 kg, shall be indicated on the label for pitted olives, filled olives, hurma olives and whole olives as per the table in the Annex-2. Except for the information shown in said table, no expression that refers to the fruit size, including trademark, may be placed on the label.

    •             In case vegetable oil is added to cover the surface of table olives, the product name can be supported by the expression "in oil" on the product labels.

    •             If the salt content (NaCl) in olives is up to 4 grams per 100 grams (4%), it can be expressed as "reduced salt".

    •             Since the term "whole" does not create a different feature in olives offered to the market as a whole, it is not necessary to indicate it on the label..

    •             If the salad olives are prepared with only spices or vinegar, it can be named as "spiced olive" or "olives in vinegar".