Focus on Quality Yields Success for Producers in France

Despite a sharp drop in production due to Europe’s prolonged drought, the number of French entries at the World Competition has progressively increased over the years.

(Photo: Mas Des Bories)
By Lisa Anderson
May. 9, 2023 15:56 UTC
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(Photo: Mas Des Bories)

Producers from France com­bined to earn four Gold and seven Silver Awards at the 2023 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.

Local pro­duc­ers have increas­ingly been rec­og­nized for their extra vir­gin olive oils at the world’s largest olive oil con­test. This year’s com­pe­ti­tion attracted its sec­ond-high­est num­ber of entrants from the Mediterranean coun­try. For the sec­ond year run­ning, French pro­duc­ers won 11 awards.

Before har­vest­ing last year, pro­duc­ers pre­dicted their results would be sig­nif­i­cantly lower than the pre­vi­ous year’s.

See Also:The Best EVOOs From France

Many blamed the impacts of drought, with the sum­mer of 2022 being France’s dri­est of the last five cen­turies, bring­ing extended heat­waves, a lack of rain­fall and a sharp pro­duc­tion drop as antic­i­pated.

For the French olive sec­tor, obtain­ing awards at inter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tions is a source of pride,” said Alexandra Paris, the direc­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions for France Olive, France’s inter­pro­fes­sional asso­ci­a­tion of its olive sec­tor.

It is recog­ni­tion not only for the work of these pro­duc­ers but also for the work car­ried out by the entire sec­tor for 30 years,” she added.

Paris said win­ning awards at the NYIOOC rewards deci­sions such as pri­or­i­tiz­ing tra­di­tional cul­ti­vars, fol­low­ing Protected Designation of Origin cer­ti­fi­ca­tion guide­lines and imple­ment­ing a strin­gent qual­ity pol­icy at a very early stage.

An award obtained in a com­pe­ti­tion in gen­eral, and in an inter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion such as the NYOOC in par­tic­u­lar, pro­vides a guar­an­tee to con­sumers,” she told Olive Oil Times, adding that these awards give pro­duc­ers the ben­e­fit of being rec­og­nized by their peers, pro­fes­sion­als who are pas­sion­ate about their pro­fes­sion.”

An award is the result of the per­fect alchemy between the olive, the pro­ducer and the miller,” she explained.

Paris said win­ning awards attracts new cus­tomers for pro­duc­ers. “[But] on an export level, this impact is more lim­ited than on a national level,” she added. It should not be for­got­ten that France’s pro­duc­tion of olive oil is low (about 4,500 tons). The quan­ti­ties exported remain quite low because our prod­uct is rare and high-end, with prices between €30 and €40 per liter.”

One of France’s big win­ners, Mas des Bories from Salon-de-Provence in south­east France, won two Gold Awards for its medium-inten­sity sig­na­ture Provence PDO blend and its medium Bouteillan.

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(Photo: Mes des Bories)

For the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive year, we received a Gold Award at the NYIOOC,” owner Claire de Fina Coutin told Olive Oil Times.

She said the com­pany is savor­ing the plea­sure and pride that comes with the inter­na­tional recog­ni­tion of the qual­ity of their oils. We also have the feel­ing of a job well done,” she said.

However, de Fina Coutin acknowl­edged that the com­pany faced many obsta­cles dur­ing the pre­vi­ous har­vest.

I think the biggest chal­lenge we have faced is water man­age­ment,” she said. We suf­fered in Provence from a his­toric drought and lim­ited access to water.”

For our Mas des Bories brand, win­ning this award is a guar­an­tee of qual­ity that allows us to grow in the United States and other mar­kets,” de Fina Contin added. We are also con­tribut­ing to the inter­na­tional impact of olive oil from Provence.”

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She said care and thor­ough­ness at each pro­duc­tion stage are vital in pro­duc­ing award-win­ning olive oils.

It starts with the atten­tion paid to our trees through­out the year, espe­cially the prun­ing,” de Fina Contin said. Manual har­vest­ing pre­serv­ing the integrity of the fruits, pick­ing car­ried out vari­ety by vari­ety at their opti­mum point of matu­rity and imme­di­ate pro­cess­ing after har­vest­ing, are all unde­ni­able fac­tors that dif­fer­en­ti­ate our oils.”

The ter­roir and the geo­graph­i­cal loca­tion of our olive grove also influ­ence the devel­op­ment of the olives and their fla­vors,” she said. Protected by the hills over­look­ing the estate, our olive trees ben­e­fit from a unique micro­cli­mate reflected in the rich­ness of the aro­matic bou­quet of our oils.”

Another win­ner from France, Maison Brémond 1830 from Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, earned a Silver Award for its Green Fruity Heritage brand’s del­i­cate Aglandau.

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Harvesting olives at Maison Brémond 1830

It is a great pride for us to be rewarded by the NYIOOC,” the company’s mar­ket­ing direc­tor, Laetitia Casanova, said. It is a real inter­na­tional recog­ni­tion of our com­mit­ted and envi­ron­men­tally-friendly work as a pro­ducer of extra vir­gin olive oil in Provence.”

However, cre­at­ing their award-win­ning oil was not easy. The very high tem­per­a­tures last sum­mer made it dif­fi­cult to har­vest,” Casanova said. There were very few olives with very lit­tle yield.”

Due to the chal­lenges faced, in part, she said the award affirms Maison Brémond 1830’s qual­ity and that of Provence — and more par­tic­u­larly Haute-Provence — and an expres­sion of how seri­ous they are about what they do.

Casanova told Olive Oil Times that their oil’s very high organolep­tic qual­ity is a dis­tin­guish­ing fea­ture. She said their lim­ited-edi­tion oil is pro­duced dur­ing a short jour­ney between the grove, mill and pack­ag­ing point, which affirms our com­mit­ment to respect the ter­roir and the envi­ron­ment.”


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