Award winners from the 2019 World Olive Oil Competition shared their thoughts on what it means for their brands.
The dust may have already settled on the 2019 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition, but many producers are still celebrating their wins and experiencing how an award at the world’s largest olive oil quality contest is impacting their brands.
In response to a survey sent out by Olive Oil Times, dozens of producers said their awards validated their cultivation and production techniques; improved their brand’s standing in the eyes of prospective and existing customers; and motivated them to continue improving their processes.
It shows me that we are on the right path to keep on producing high-quality extra virgin olive oil.
For some producers, the award is also a proud reminder of how a family tradition has persevered and flourished over the course of generations.
“It is a proud moment for a small family company to win an award of this category, it is a great recognition of our tradition and our land,” Victor Fortis Uceda said of his family’s Silver Award for their Uno Picual.See more: Official Index of the World’s Best Olive Oils
While some of these family farms have been making olive oil for centuries, others were just getting started. Regardless of how long they have been making olive oil, producers saw the award as not just as a validation of their traditions, but as a challenge to keep improving their product.
“Winning two Gold Awards at this year’s NYIOOC is a huge motivation for the Cantasole team, who work with dedication and care all year round,” Arianna de Marco said. Her family won two Gold Awards for a robust Coratina and medium blend.
For de Marco, this year’s award was especially important as it validated her production techniques. She recently took over as the fourth generation olive oil producer on her family farm and the award proves that she is off to a good start.
“It shows me that we are on the right path to keep on producing high-quality extra virgin olive oil,” she said. “The NYIOOC is the most important window into the extra virgin olive oil market. Being awarded allows us to get into contact with new customers everywhere looking to purchase high-quality products.”
The potential to expand customer bases was another common theme among producers. Many said that awards from NYIOOC serve as impressive credentials when trying to expand existing customer bases and negotiate with retailers, especially in the United States.
“For me and for my colleagues at Il Molino farm, [these awards are] very important because through them we can present our extra virgin olive oil to American consumers and customers, letting our product be known,” Annalisa Torzilli said of Il Molino’s Gold Award for its organic delicate Caninese.
However, with its international panel and media coverage as well as attendees from all over the world, the NYIOOC also works in reverse, allowing American producers to showcase their own high quality oils to the rest of the world.
“We are very excited to once again have a winning California-grown olive oil.” Denise Reinhold of Capay Valley Ranches, said. This year, the company took home a Silver Award for its medium Arbequina.
“The NYIOOC has brought recognition to our brand and worldwide opportunities for growth,” she added.
Winning at the prestigious competition not only has the potential to boost individual brands but in the case of non-traditional olive oil producing countries, can also boost the image of entire regions.
It means to me that hard work pays off and it puts my company among the best in the world.
“Being judged a World’s Best Olive Oil is a game changer for Dali and New Zealand olive oil,” Ross Vintiner, whose Dali Frantoio earned a Silver Award, said. “Being judged with the world’s best means local consumers have confidence that local is world class and a great product. For us as producers, with this award, we can benchmark ourselves against the world and aim to do even better.”
Along with promoting their respective brands on the world stage, the NYIOOC also serves as a leveler between huge multi-nationals and much smaller olive oil producing operations. It is an opportunity for small producers to go toe-to-toe with larger competitors and demonstrate their quality.
“It is really great to receive the recognition of one of the most respected tasting panels,” Eddy Plasquy, of Del Cetino, said. “As a small producer, it gives you the possibility to compete at the highest quality level. More than anything else it confirms our conviction that small producers are capable of producing a wonderful olive oil.”
Del Cetino was among the awarded brands for the third year in a row, bringing home two Gold Awards for a robust Picual and medium Arbequina.
Respondents told Olive Oil Times that a win at the NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition serves as a confirmation from the highest level that their hard work and dedication paid off.
As a result, numerous producers expressed satisfaction and joy about receiving their awards but also said it serves as motivation to continue improving upon their products.
The Olmais team considers the NYIOOC the most important award for our brand as it is one of the reasons for its very existence.
“The Olmais team considers the NYIOOC the most important award for our brand as it is one of the reasons for its very existence,” Julio Alves said. “Back in 2016, when we entered the competition for the first time, we were in the very beginning of our brand. We had created the brand just two months before and had just a couple of local shops as clients.”
“We knew our product was special and winning that first Gold medal back then gave us the recognition we needed and encouraged us to work even harder, improve packaging and take this project to where it is today,” he added. “Now you can find Olmais from Canada to Brazil, and from Europe to Asia.”
At this year’s edition of the competition, the Portuguese producer took home a Gold Award for its Cobrancosa.
For many producers who participated in the NYIOOC, the competition represents the pinnacle of the olive oil quality world, with a Best in Class Award serving as the ultimate prize.
“Winning the Best in Class in New York is like winning the World Cup in [association] football,” Karim Fitouri, of Olivko, said. The Tunisian producer was among the most successful at this year’s NYIOOC, bringing home two Gold Awards and one Best in Class.
“It means to me that hard work pays off and it puts my company among the best in the world,” Fitouri added.