New Zealand's Producers Rake in Awards at 8th NYIOOC World Competition

New Zealand producers earned a record-setting seven awards from eight entries at the 2020 edition of the world's most prestigious olive oil quality contest.

Loopline olive groves in Wairarapa, New Zealand.
May. 19, 2020
By Lisa Anderson
Loopline olive groves in Wairarapa, New Zealand.

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Part of our con­tin­u­ing cov­er­age of the 2020 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.

Delighted,” thrilled” and rapt” were some expres­sions New Zealand’s pro­duc­ers used in response to earn­ing seven Gold Awards at the 2020 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.

The country’s total was three more than they won at the 2019 edi­tion of the com­pe­ti­tion. New Zealanders won six more Golds this time around.

The New Zealand indus­try is bou­tique by nature and while it may not have the vol­ume pro­duc­tion, this is more than com­pen­sated in the out­stand­ing qual­ity.- Gayle Sheridan, exec­u­tive offi­cer of Olives New Zealand

This year’s NYIOOC entries were judged remotely as a result of travel restric­tions due to the global COVID-19 cri­sis.

The com­pe­ti­tion’s 584 win­ning oils were announced one at a time dur­ing an inter­ac­tive pre­sen­ta­tion that ran daily from Monday through Friday on the offi­cial results web­site.

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See Also: Special Coverage: 2020 NYIOOC

Olives New Zealand exec­u­tive offi­cer Gayle Sheridan described this year as an out­stand­ing one for New Zealand, which has won Gold Awards at the com­pe­ti­tion every year since 2016.

Olives New Zealand extends its con­grat­u­la­tions to the New Zealand win­ners and to all the other win­ners,” Sheridan said.

Olives New Zealand sent our five top win­ning gold medal oils from the 2019 New Zealand Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards to New York, and they all won Gold,” she added, in ref­er­ence to the brands car­ried by Olives New Zealand: Woodside Bay, Kakariki, Kapiti, Old French Road and Olea Estate brands.

These Gold Award-win­ning oils are rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the wider New Zealand indus­try,” Sheridan said. The New Zealand olive indus­try is a rel­a­tively young indus­try on an inter­na­tional scale, with most of our plant­i­ngs being in 1999 to 2001.”

According to the Olives New Zealand grove cen­sus, there are 350,000 olive trees planted with the major­ity of groves hav­ing less than 1,000 trees,” she added. Therefore, the New Zealand indus­try is bou­tique by nature and while it may not have the vol­ume pro­duc­tion, this is more than com­pen­sated in the out­stand­ing qual­ity.”

Additionally, Loopline Olives, a sep­a­rate pro­ducer from New Zealand, won two Gold Awards.

I am delighted,” Stephen Davies Howard, owner of Loopline Olives in the Wairarapa region, said. His com­pany was awarded for a robust Picholine and a robust Picual.

You need fas­tid­i­ous atten­tion to detail in the pro­duc­tion of the best-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil, but the beau­ti­ful Wairarapa cli­mate and soil have to be the biggest con­tribut­ing fac­tor,” he said.

Brenda Gregory, who co-owns Kakariki in Redwood Valley, Nelson, together with her hus­band, Ray, said they were absolutely thrilled to have won a Gold Award for their oil,” refer­ring to their medium Mediterranean blend.

Gregory said they were super proud that New Zealand olive oil is and can be rec­og­nized as world-class.”

We think this is a huge achieve­ment for Olives New Zealand and all New Zealand grow­ers,” she added.

Gregory attrib­uted their suc­cess to par­tic­u­lar grove man­age­ment strate­gies that are well-suited to New Zealand’s grow­ing con­di­tions and being able to har­vest and press in the short­est time pos­si­ble.

We are a very hands-on grove and pride our­selves on doing all the work our­selves,” she said.

John Goodwin who owns Woodside Bay, with a small grove of 200 olive trees, on Waiheke Island with his wife, Angela, said they were delighted to be hon­ored with this award” for their medium blend.

He added they were very excited when Olives New Zealand told them their oil was being entered to the NYIOOC.

Rather naively, we had assumed that the con­test would not be able to pro­ceed because of COVID-19, so it was just amaz­ing when we received a text in the mid­dle of the night, to tell us that our oil had won a Gold Award on the world stage,” he said.

As a roman­tic,” Angela Goodwin said, I will tell you that our olives suc­ceed because they are tended with love. As a hor­ti­cul­tur­ist, John will credit our ter­roir, mar­itime cli­mate and hus­bandry, which keep our trees dis­ease-free and there­fore spray-free.”

We think the stan­dard of New Zealand’s olive oils has just been get­ting bet­ter and bet­ter as the arti­sanal nature of the prod­uct has devel­oped,” she added. And our buy­ers have become increas­ingly dis­cern­ing as to the nature of the oil they are buy­ing.”

New Zealand’s olive oil indus­try is small and rel­a­tively new. I’m proud to see our pro­duc­ers punch­ing above their weight by cre­at­ing high-qual­ity prod­ucts that com­pete on the world stage.- Damien O’Connor, New Zealand min­is­ter of agri­cul­ture

Jan Whyte, co-owner of Old French Road Olive Grove, in Takamatua on Banks Peninsula, together with her hus­band, Niall Holland, said being awarded a Gold for their medium Picholine is very sat­is­fy­ing as it is ver­i­fi­ca­tion that the stan­dards being applied for the New Zealand awards are at least as rig­or­ous as in New York.

On a more per­sonal level,” Whyte said, it feels like a very happy reward for all the care and atten­tion we give to our grove, and con­fir­ma­tion that what we are doing is work­ing well.”

Whyte attrib­uted the pair’s suc­cess to putting a lot of effort into con­trol­ling dis­ease through good prun­ing prac­tice, soil main­te­nance, fre­quent mow­ing and a care­fully man­aged spray regime.

We are metic­u­lous in our har­vest­ing processes with branches shaken onto nets, care­ful de-leaf­ing and ensur­ing pro­cess­ing occurs within 24 hours of har­vest,” she said.

Additionally, the pair oper­ate at a cli­matic mar­gin for olive trees which seems to help improve fla­vor,” Whyte said.

We can pro­duce great fruit, but we still need a good press to achieve great oil. We are very thank­ful to Ray McClelland at Waipara Olive Processors for run­ning the press so well,” she con­cluded.

Helen Walshaw, who co-owns Kapiti in Te Horo, north of Wellington on the Kapiti Coast, with her hus­band, David, said they were absolutely rapt to win a Gold Award at the NYIOOC [for our medium Picual blend] and awoke to the excit­ing news with a text mes­sage from Olives New Zealand.”

Walshaw added that they have worked hard on every aspect of their olive oil pro­duc­tion, from the tree health to press­ing within 24 hours and stor­ing the oil under the best pos­si­ble con­di­tions.

We then aim to develop our tast­ing and blend­ing abil­i­ties to achieve Gold Award-win­ning olives oils,” she said. That is our goal every year.”

New Zealand’s min­is­ter of agri­cul­ture, Damien O’Connor, con­grat­u­lated the win­ners who should all be very proud of this huge achieve­ment.”

New Zealand’s olive oil indus­try is small and rel­a­tively new,” O’Connor said. I’m proud to see our pro­duc­ers punch­ing above their weight by cre­at­ing high-qual­ity prod­ucts that com­pete on the world stage.”

O’Connor said these seven awards are tes­ta­ment to their hard work, focus on sus­tain­able pro­duc­tion and great under­stand­ing of grow­ing excep­tional olives in New Zealand con­di­tions.”

He said the gov­ern­ment is proud to part­ner with their olive indus­try through the Sustainable Food & Fiber Futures fund to boost olive pro­duc­tion through sus­tain­able tech­niques.

This work has already had con­sid­er­able suc­cess,” O’Connor said. I am excited for the future of New Zealand’s olive indus­try and broader food and fiber sec­tor as we look to our next wave of inno­va­tion and trans­for­ma­tion. Even though olives are rel­a­tively new for New Zealand, we can see a vibrant indus­try devel­op­ing.”


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