South American Producers Celebrate NYIOOC Victories After Tough Year

The pandemic and difficult climatic conditions hampered the harvests of Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, yet these producers managed to win the industry's most coveted quality awards.
Photo: Claudio Lovazzano
Jun. 30, 2021
Daniel Dawson

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Part of our con­tin­u­ing spe­cial cov­er­age of the 2021 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.


Producers from across the Southern Cone cel­e­brated a suc­cess­ful year at the 2021 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition, over­com­ing the uncer­tainty of the Covid-19 pan­demic and ongo­ing drought to pro­duce some of the world’s best olive oils.

Comprising Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, pro­duc­ers from the three coun­tries com­bined to earn 13 awards from 20 entries.

The results obtained at the 2021 NYIOOC con­firm the work that has been done, rec­og­niz­ing the effort of the pro­duc­ers who are seek­ing to pro­duce high-qual­ity oils.- José Manuel Reyes, com­mer­cial direc­tor, Agricola Pobeña

However, the biggest win­ners from South America’s south­ern penin­sula at this year’s edi­tion of the world’s most pres­ti­gious olive oil qual­ity com­pe­ti­tion was Chile.

Producers from the long and nar­row coun­try sit­u­ated between the Pacific Ocean and Andes moun­tains took home five Gold Awards and four Silver Awards from 11 entries, the country’s sec­ond-largest medal haul at the com­pe­ti­tion and high­est suc­cess rate by a large mar­gin.

Producers from Chile – as well as Argentina and Uruguay – were some of the first to har­vest dur­ing the Covid-19 pan­demic, before the sci­en­tific com­mu­nity really had a grasp on the disease’s patholo­gies or how it spread.

See Also: Best Olive Oils from Chile

Despite this uncer­tainty, Chilean pro­duc­ers care­fully man­aged the har­vest and were largely unaf­fected by out­breaks among their work­ers. They also over­came increas­ingly dry con­di­tions to once again craft award-win­ning extra vir­gin olive oils.

Among the biggest win­ners from Chile was Agricola Pobeña, the maker of Alonso Olive Oil, which earned three Gold Awards at this year’s NYIOOC.

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Photo: Agricola Pobeña

For the entire Alonso team, win­ning these awards was a joy and pride, espe­cially after the dif­fi­cult year that we have all lived through due to the pan­demic,” José Manuel Reyes, the company’s com­mer­cial man­ager, told Olive Oil Times. It is an award that con­firms our work, what we have been doing over the years and moti­vates us to remain focused on pro­duc­ing high qual­ity.”

Looking at the big­ger pic­ture, Reyes said that he believes these awards are good for Chile as a whole, putting their best oils on par with those from tra­di­tional olive oil-pro­duc­ing coun­tries.

Chile is a great pro­ducer of qual­ity olive oil, and I believe that over the years we have man­aged to posi­tion the name of Chile at the top of the olive oil world,” he said. The results obtained at the 2021 NYIOOC con­firm the work that has been done, rec­og­niz­ing the effort of the pro­duc­ers who are seek­ing to pro­duce high-qual­ity oils.”

In the 2019/20 crop year, Chile pro­duced about 20,000 tons of olive oil, International Olive Council data show, of which 15,500 tons were exported. As a result, pro­duc­ers from across the coun­try said that NYIOOC awards serve as a pass­port for their oils onto super­mar­ket shelves of Brazil, Europe and North America.

This is cer­tainly the case for Olivos Ruta del Sol, which earned a Gold and Silver Award for a medium and del­i­cate blend, respec­tively.

competitions-south-america-the-best-olive-oils-south-american-producers-celebrate-nyiooc-victories-after-tough-year-olive-oil-times

Fernando Carrasco Spano

These awards help a lot to strengthen our rela­tion­ship with our busi­ness part­ners in New York City and the rest of the United States,” Fernando Carrasco Spano, the company’s CEO, told Olive Oil Times. It is a seal of qual­ity and the con­se­quence of the work and vision that moves us.”

He added that he was espe­cially happy to see the Fine Selection brand, the del­i­cate blend, earn its first awards from the NYIOOC.

Spano said that the secret to the company’s suc­cess was com­plete con­trol of the pro­duc­tion process. However, 2020 com­pli­cated the company’s usual har­vest rou­tine, with Covid-19-related travel bans pre­vent­ing their usual experts from com­ing in and help­ing dur­ing the milling process.

Our main inter­na­tional col­lab­o­ra­tors could not be here dur­ing har­vest,” he said. We worked with a young team, who were very com­mit­ted to the brand and the prod­uct vision.”

Farther north of the Olivos Ruta del Sol, water stress was the main chal­lenge fac­ing the pro­duc­ers behind Viña Morande, which earned a Silver Award for its Izaro Premium Blend.

competitions-south-america-the-best-olive-oils-south-american-producers-celebrate-nyiooc-victories-after-tough-year-olive-oil-times

Photo: Viña Morande

Without a doubt, the great­est threats that we had to face due to our loca­tion are the water short­age dur­ing the sum­mer months and the frosts dur­ing the autumn and win­ter months,” Carolina Terc, the company’s mar­ket­ing man­ager, told Olive Oil Times. We are very proud to see the result of con­sis­tent work year after year, in which we give our best to obtain qual­ity olive oil.”

Despite the chal­lenges cre­ated by the cli­mate of the Casablanca Valley, which is located just east of the Chilean cap­i­tal, Santiago, Terc added that the same cli­mate is what helps the company’s olive oils to stand out.

Our oil, which comes from a val­ley influ­enced by the Pacific Ocean, such as the Casablanca Valley, is char­ac­ter­ized by its green fruity ori­gin from the incom­plete ripen­ing of the fruit at har­vest time,” she said.

Along with Spano, Terc believes that con­tin­u­ing to win awards at the NYIOOC will help carve out a niche for her brand in the inter­na­tional mar­ket.

Without a doubt, the award obtained in the NYIOOC com­pe­ti­tion… will con­tribute to the posi­tion­ing of our oil among the best in the world,” she said. We hope this rep­re­sents a tool that allows us to con­sol­i­date our­selves in the North American mar­ket and in this way reach a greater num­ber of house­holds in the United States.”

While all Chilean pro­duc­ers agreed that win­ning at the World Competition helped make their brands more com­pet­i­tive, the pro­duc­ers behind Olivos del Sur, Olisur for short, said their Silver Award also val­i­dated their eco­log­i­cal approach to olive oil pro­duc­tion.

competitions-south-america-the-best-olive-oils-south-american-producers-celebrate-nyiooc-victories-after-tough-year-olive-oil-times

Photo: Claudio Lovazzano

To win an award is always a great feel­ing, even more, when this is the result of a lot of people’s efforts,” Claudio Lovazzano, the company’s mar­ket­ing man­ager, told Olive Oil Times. In our case, a Silver Award speaks of con­sis­tency in our high qual­ity and great aro­mas and fla­vor.”

What sets us apart as Olivos del Sur, is our com­mit­ment to the envi­ron­ment. Producing the world’s best extra vir­gin olive oil is only part of our mis­sion,” he added. Doing so in an envi­ron­men­tally respon­si­ble man­ner is equally as impor­tant, which is why we can proudly claim we are a car­bon-neu­tral cer­ti­fied com­pany.”

However, the effort to become more envi­ron­men­tally friendly is also dri­ven out of neces­sity for pro­duc­ers in cen­tral Chile. The ongo­ing drought con­tin­ues to present chal­lenges in pro­vid­ing the trees with ade­quate amounts of water.

2020 was dif­fi­cult not only because of the Covid-19 chal­lenges, as we needed to change our way of work to avoid any kind of con­ta­gion and take care of our peo­ple but also because of the drought that has affected our coun­try over the past sev­eral years,” Lovazzano said.

In an effort to give back to the planet, we aim to off­set our car­bon emis­sions by reduc­ing, reusing and recy­cling,” he added. That way, not only can we become the world’s top extra vir­gin olive oil brand, but we can feel good about doing so. And the award serves as a recog­ni­tion of all that.”

See Also: Best Olive Oils from Argentina

While Chile was the biggest win­ner among the three Southern Cone nations, it was not the only one. On the other side of the Andes, two Argentine pro­duc­ers com­bined to win a Gold and Silver Award at the World Competition.

Olive oil pro­duc­tion reached 30,000 tons in Argentina in 2020 as a com­bi­na­tion of pro­duc­ers enter­ing an off-year and oth­ers hav­ing trou­ble find­ing work­ers dur­ing the country’s strict lock­down con­tributed to a lower yield than expected.

However, receiv­ing inter­na­tional recog­ni­tion from the NYIOOC is one of the best ways to cap off a chal­leng­ing year and for the pro­duc­ers behind the San Juan-based Establecimiento Olivum, earn­ing a Silver Award was no excep­tion.

competitions-south-america-the-best-olive-oils-south-american-producers-celebrate-nyiooc-victories-after-tough-year-olive-oil-times

Photo: Establecimiento Olivum

This is the third con­sec­u­tive year that they have awarded our medium blend,” Maria Gabriela Panelli, the company’s com­mer­cial man­ager, told Olive Oil Times. Our oils are the fruit of a lot of effort and ded­i­ca­tion. That they are rec­og­nized by such pres­ti­gious juries as those of NYIOOC gives us immense pride and sat­is­fac­tion.”

Like Chile, Argentina was also one of the first coun­tries to begin har­vest­ing dur­ing the pan­demic, and the team at Olivum had to work through the uncer­tainty to keep every­one safe while accom­plish­ing the har­vest.

Without a doubt, the pan­demic was a chal­lenge that we all had to face, defin­ing pro­to­cols to be able to move for­ward with the har­vest and pro­duc­tion of the oils,” Panelli said.

However, the com­pany over­came the pan­demic-related obsta­cles and once again proved they can com­pete with the best in the world.

Our qual­ity resides in con­stant work; sus­tained invest­ment; an early har­vest; the selec­tion of fruit before grind­ing and the com­mit­ment of our peo­ple in their daily work and in the care of the oils,” Panelli said. Having an NYIOOC award again con­firms the main­te­nance of our qual­ity year after year.”

See Also: Best Olive Oils from Uruguay

Continuing east, on the other side of the Rio de la Plata, two Uruguayan pro­duc­ers com­bined to win the country’s first two NYIOOC awards since 2019. Furthermore, the Gold and Silver Award are the most earned by Uruguayan pro­duc­ers at the com­pe­ti­tion since 2017.

After a record-break­ing har­vest in 2019, Uruguay expe­ri­enced a much smaller har­vest in 2020, with a spring­time frost dur­ing the blos­som­ing period sig­nif­i­cantly dam­ag­ing many of the country’s trees. After pro­duc­ing 2,800 tons in 2019, the 2020 har­vest fell to just 700 tons.

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Photo: Agroland SA

Yet this did not dampen the spir­its of the win­ning pro­duc­ers, who told Olive Oil Times that win­ning at the NYIOOC was extremely sat­is­fy­ing after the tough har­vest.

This year we par­tic­i­pated, because I was sat­is­fied with the prod­uct,” Victor Rodríguez, the olive oil pro­duc­tion man­ager at Agroland SA, told Olive Oil Times. The joy [of win­ning] was very great. Since 2016, we have not par­tic­i­pated and to do it again and win a Gold Award, is a proud moment.”

Rodríguez added that the har­vest has already been com­pleted in Uruguay and while the 2021 yield will not reach the lev­els of 2019, he is opti­mistic about the future.

In addi­tion to an improved yield, he hopes that this NYIOOC award will help the com­pany mar­ket its brand.

I hope the impact of win­ning at the NYIOOC is very good. I under­stand that it is a com­mer­cial tool, which we have to know how to take advan­tage of,” he said. These awards are not always obtained, espe­cially at such a pres­ti­gious inter­na­tional con­test.”


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