The olive oil industry's marquee event is getting bigger.
The 2018 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition boasted some impressive stats: One thousand entries from 27 countries (organizers closed registration early); 18 judges from 13 countries; an audience of 160 food industry professionals and media attended the event and more than 7,000 watched the live stream. There were 462 awards bestowed in yet another sign of the rise of olive oil quality around the world.
It was by far the largest, most attended and most watched olive oil quality contest yet, and the official online index of the award winners has been viewed 1.7 million times since the awards night — an indication that more people than ever are searching for high-quality olive oils, and the dedicated producers who craft them are getting at least some of the recognition they deserve.
However, to Curtis Cord, the founding president of the NYIOOC, the premier event for Liquid Gold is just getting started.
Planning for the annual competition’s seventh edition is a process that began the moment the lights went off on the 2018 event, said Cord. Every aspect of the process has been evaluated and analyzed.
Last year, for the first time the judges began to record characteristics of oil samples on iPads using a proprietary application built by the NYIOOC technical team. The data collected through the system has provided Cord and his staff data to analyze and refine the entire assessment process in ways that weren’t previously possible.
“A lot of our refinements come down to timing, redundancy and providing the best possible conditions for our tasting professionals to give every sample the undivided attention it deserves,” Cord said. “One hundred percent accuracy is our standard, and there is no acceptable error margin in this task.”
One of the major changes for this year will be the appointment of 3 new judges to the panel of 18 expert tasters. The judging days will be extended from four to five, and a redesigned tasting protocol will serve to further ensure the accuracy of the panel’s findings — a matter Cord called his single most important responsibility.
One longstanding tradition — announcing the results on the same day the judging wraps up — will not continue at the 2019 NYIOOC. Organizers said the care with which the results need to be compiled and the preparations for the awards led to the decision to move the celebration to the following day.
To welcome more attendees to the perennially sold-out event, a new venue will accommodate an audience of 200 in a dramatic space in New York’s East Village. The night will begin later this year, with the unveiling of the world’s best olive oils starting at 7:30, the press conference at 8:30 and the celebration lasting late into the evening. “It’s a big night, “Cord said. “We want to spend more time celebrating with friends who are coming from every corner of the world.”
Cord added that the real work begins when the lights go down on the NYIOOC. That’s the start of the year-long campaign to share the names of the winning brands and publicize the triumphant producers who managed to craft the year’s best olive oils. And, as in every year, there are new initiatives on that front, too.
Cord said he would save the details of those initiatives for his May 10 press conference, but he offered this: “We’re going to be making it abundantly easier for people to learn about, find, and buy, NYIOOC-winning oils.”
Registration is now open for producers and marketers to enter their brands in the competition via the NYIOOC Producer Tools portal. Tickets to the events go on sale in February.