Italian Producers Achieve Record Success at World Competition

Despite the historic challenges of 2020, producers from across Italy turned out in record numbers and reaped a record number of the industry's most prestigious awards.
Photo: Entimio
Jun. 1, 2021
Paolo DeAndreis

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

Italian pro­duc­ers earned a record num­ber of awards at the 2021 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition from a record num­ber of entries.

NYIOOC data show that 115 pro­duc­ers from 18 of Italy’s 20 regions were awarded at this year’s edi­tion of the world’s most pres­ti­gious olive oil qual­ity com­pe­ti­tion.

Over the years, these inim­itable qual­i­ties have kept grow­ing and the Index of the World’s Best Olive Oils cer­ti­fies it, with an aston­ish­ing num­ber of awards for Italian extra vir­gin olive oils.- Francesco Battistoni, Italian Undersecretary of Agriculture, Food and Forestry

The high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oils were pro­duced dur­ing one of the most chal­leng­ing sea­sons of the past few years, as bad weather cou­pled with the Covid-19 pan­demic, ham­pered har­vests up and down the coun­try.

See Also:The Best Olive Oils from Italy

Italian olive oil pro­duc­tion in 2020 reached a total value of €3.3 bil­lion, fig­ures that do not take into account self-pro­duc­tion and self-con­sump­tion, which are fairly rel­e­vant fac­tors in our coun­try,” Francesco Battistoni, the Italian under­sec­re­tary of agri­cul­ture, food and forestry, told Olive Oil Times.

We pro­duced 273,000 tons of olive oil and con­sumed 480,000 tons. By value, Italy is the world’s sec­ond-largest exporter and lead­ing importer,” Battistoni noted.


The south­ern regions of the coun­try suf­fered the most from inclement weather, espe­cially Puglia, which is respon­si­ble for roughly 40 to 60 per­cent of total Italian olive oil pro­duc­tion. Local pro­duc­ers saw their crop yields cut by 50 per­cent.

Puglia also faced the grow­ing dam­ages of the Xylella fas­tidiosa out­break, but mostly suf­fered from repeated extreme events just like other regions in the area, such as Calabria and Sicily. Experts warn that these types of sea­sons are likely to become increas­ingly nor­mal and may be wors­ened by short and extreme heat­waves dur­ing the sum­mer.

After such a chal­leng­ing sea­son, 211 Italian extra vir­gin olive oils were awarded at the NYIOOC, with a record 160 Gold Awards and 51 Silver Awards earned by large and small pro­duc­ers devoted to high qual­ity.

What dis­tin­guishes us is the con­stant quest for qual­ity and the extra­or­di­nary vari­ety of our prod­ucts,” Battistoni said. Italy rep­re­sents a unique her­itage and our com­pa­nies suc­ceed in giv­ing birth to unique, unmatched prod­ucts. Over the years, these inim­itable qual­i­ties have kept grow­ing and the Index of the World’s Best Olive Oils cer­ti­fies it, with an aston­ish­ing num­ber of awards for Italian extra vir­gin olive oils.”


Photo: Francesco Battistoni

As the gov­ern­ment in Italy, we are work­ing on olive pro­duc­tion chain devel­op­ment projects because there is still room for improve­ment, mostly on the tech­no­log­i­cal inno­va­tion side,” he added. We must work on the cul­tural her­itage related to agri­cul­ture and Mediterranean diet and feel con­fi­dent about the future even if the Covid-19 out­break harshly hit the [olive oil] sec­tor.”

The high­est total num­ber of awards, 20, went to pro­duc­ers in Tuscany, Puglia and Sicily. Tuscan pro­duc­ers col­lected the most Gold Awards, with 18.

Tuscany was fol­lowed by pro­duc­ers from Lazio, who suc­ceeded in col­lect­ing 16 Gold Awards, a sig­nif­i­cant increase from the nine earned at the pre­vi­ous edi­tion. Puglian pro­duc­ers earned the third-high­est num­ber of Gold Awards, with 15.

Italy’s north­ern regions also con­firmed the grow­ing qual­ity of their prod­ucts, with Veneto win­ning nine Gold Awards after fail­ing to earn a sin­gle dis­tinc­tion in 2020. Producers from Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Lombardia and Liguria were also awarded in 2021 after fail­ing to do so in 2020.

We are see­ing sev­eral new play­ers in the sec­tor invest­ing in high qual­ity and there­fore par­tic­i­pat­ing in such a rel­e­vant com­pe­ti­tion as the NYIOOC,” said Daniele Santini, owner of the Tuscan-based Entimio brand, which won four Gold Awards.

For Tuscany, 2020 has been a very good sea­son, unlike 2019,” he told Olive Oil Times. It is not sur­pris­ing that in other regions things went dif­fer­ently in terms of quan­tity, when we look at the Italian har­vest sea­sons, results his­tor­i­cally dif­fer so much from region to region.”

For the Tuscan entre­pre­neur, many Italian high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil pro­duc­ers have even more room for improve­ment espe­cially in expand­ing organic pro­duc­tion or evolv­ing pack­ag­ing.

If we look at some pro­duc­ers from Spain or France, we can see a lot of atten­tion given to the pack­ag­ing,” Santini said. It is some­thing many Italian pro­duc­ers of fine extra vir­gin olive oils could look into.”

Entimio has been par­tic­i­pat­ing in the NYIOOC since its first edi­tion.

The NYIOOC is a great tool for pro­duc­ers like us,” Santini said. It is the best con­fir­ma­tion of the qual­ity of our work and it is a sure value for our brand.”

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