Awards for California Producers Validate High EVOO Standards

Producers from the Golden State earned a record-high 88 awards at the NYIOOC. One prominent producer believes the state’s EVOO standards set it apart.
Photo: Grumpy Goats Farm
By Daniel Dawson
Jul. 5, 2022 14:30 UTC

Part of our con­tin­u­ing spe­cial cov­er­age of the 2022 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.

Olive oil pro­duc­ers in California cel­e­brated a record year at the 2022 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.

Forty-one farm­ers and millers from the Golden State, which is respon­si­ble for vir­tu­ally all olive oil pro­duc­tion in the United States, com­bined to earn a record-high 88 of the indus­try’s most cov­eted qual­ity awards.

Of these, 52 awards were won by mem­bers of the California Olive Oil Council (COOC), a trade asso­ci­a­tion that rep­re­sents more than 300 grow­ers and pro­duc­ers.

Shaana Rahman, the pres­i­dent of the group’s board of direc­tors and co-owner of Boccabella Farms, told Olive Oil Times that the state’s grow­ing suc­cess in the com­pe­ti­tion may be par­tially attrib­uted to its excep­tion­ally high stan­dards for extra vir­gin olive oil pro­duc­tion.

See Also:Best Olive Oils From the U.S.

Most of the world adheres to the extra vir­gin olive oil def­i­n­i­tion set out in the Codex Alimentarius, which stip­u­lates its free fatty acid con­tent expressed as oleic acid must be less than 0.8 grams per 100 grams.

In California, the free fatty acid con­tent is lim­ited to 0.5 grams per 100 grams, the strictest olive oil qual­ity stan­dard in the world.

When California olive oil pro­duc­ers can com­pete with and shine amidst inter­na­tional olive oil pro­duc­ers, it tells us that California’s stan­dard for extra vir­gin olive… has had the direct effect of mak­ing olive oil pro­duced in California, not only some of the finest in the world but also a prod­uct that con­sumers can trust,” Rahman said.

However, she also believes California’s record suc­cess at the world’s largest olive oil qual­ity com­pe­ti­tion can be attrib­uted to a boun­ti­ful har­vest, skilled millers and bet­ter infra­struc­ture.

Luckily, crop vol­umes were good in 2021 and based on accounts from COOC mem­bers, the qual­ity of the olives har­vested was excep­tional,” Rahman said.

Great look­ing fruit, strict adher­ence to COOC’s rig­or­ous stan­dards to meet cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, skilled olive oil millers and proper post-pro­duc­tion han­dling all directly led to 24 of our mem­bers win­ning a total of 52 awards,” she added.


Johnny Jantz and Shaana Rahman of Boccabella Farms earned three awards at the 2022 NYIOOC.

Rahman and Boccabella Farms earned three Gold Awards at the com­pe­ti­tion. She said that sus­tained suc­cess at the NYIOOC is espe­cially grat­i­fy­ing for small pro­duc­ers.

As small pro­duc­ers, doing every­thing from main­tain­ing the orchard to putting labels on our bot­tles, it is really grat­i­fy­ing to have our olive oil rec­og­nized in such a com­pet­i­tive judg­ing process,” she said.

We put such a tremen­dous amount of time and effort into craft­ing our olive oil, tast­ing and test­ing it at every step of the process, that intu­itively we know when we have an award-win­ning olive oil,” Rahman added. But we have an unspo­ken pact that we won’t say that out loud, lest we jinx’ it.”

Three more of the 52 awards earned by COOC mem­bers went to Pamela and Stuart Marvel, co-own­ers of Grumpy Goats Farm.


Photo: Grumpy Goats Farm

Stuart and I could­n’t agree on a name for our farm and fussed and fussed over it until we hit on nam­ing it after our­selves: the grumpy old goats,” Marvel told Olive Oil Times.

Situated in Capay, California, just out­side the state cap­i­tal, Grumpy Goats Farm earned two Gold Awards and a Silver Award. Marvel said the awards con­tinue to val­i­date their efforts to pro­duce high-qual­ity olive oil.


To get such recog­ni­tion from the renowned NYIOOC was a huge con­fir­ma­tion to us that we con­tinue some­how to do the right things – or enough of them – to pro­duce good oil,” she said. We have a mul­ti­tude of repeat cus­tomers that we attribute to the noto­ri­ety that NYIOOC com­pe­ti­tions have given us.”

Marvel attrib­uted their suc­cess to hard work and astute deci­sion-mak­ing. We try to give our trees what they need to grow well and make key deci­sions at the right time dur­ing the har­vest, milling and bot­tling cycles,” she said.

However, she acknowl­edged that a tight labor mar­ket in the pre­vi­ous har­vest pre­sented quite a chal­lenge. Meanwhile, the state’s ongo­ing drought has made pro­duc­ing olive oil increas­ingly chal­leng­ing over the years.

While about half of this year’s win­ning pro­duc­ers from California are mem­bers of the COOC, plenty of other pro­duc­ers in California cel­e­brated NYIOOC suc­cess as well.

Teresa Hernando, the gen­eral man­ager of The Olive Press, was very hon­ored” to receive three Silver Awards at the com­pe­ti­tion.


Photo: The Olive Press

Guests love to see that we have par­tic­i­pated in the NYIOOC, and we do post the awards on our bot­tles,” she told Olive Oil Times.

The Olive Press has par­tic­i­pated in all 10 edi­tions of the NYIOOC, and Hernando acknowl­edged that each har­vest comes with a unique set of chal­lenges. 2021 was no excep­tion.

Our main chal­lenge last year was very low yields when milling,” she said. The aver­age is 38 gal­lons (173 liters) of oil per ton of olives, but last year we were milling 28 gal­lons (127 liters) per ton.”

While this chal­lenge was not felt by pro­duc­ers uni­ver­sally in the 2021/22 crop year, it may be a more wide­spread real­ity in the com­ing har­vest.

According to pre­lim­i­nary data from the Olive Oil Commission of California, the state will pro­duce 1.8 mil­lion gal­lons (8.2 mil­lion liters) of olive oil in the 2022/23 crop year, down from the three mil­lion gal­lons (14 mil­lion liters) pro­duced in the pre­vi­ous one.


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