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
Jul. 5, 2022
Daniel Dawson

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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