Part of our continuing special coverage of the 2022 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.
Italian producers won the highest number of awards for the sixth consecutive year at the NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.
At the 2022 edition of the world’s largest olive oil quality competition, producers from Italy earned 158 Gold and Silver Awards. Spain came in second with 128 awards.
Behind each award, there are such interesting stories, which should be told to raise consumers’ awareness.
However, this year’s tally represented a significant drop from last year’s record-high 211 awards. Extreme weather events in the north of the country prevented many producers from entering the competition.
“Once again, Italy is confirmed as a land of immense olive riches,” Francesco Battistoni, the country’s undersecretary of agriculture, told Olive Oil Times. “The awards won at the NYIOOC certify this Italian record.”See Also:The Best Olive Oils from Italy
He added that the awards recognize the history and tradition of Italian olive oil production and vindicate many producers’ efforts to preserve biodiversity while producing olive oils of exceptional organoleptic quality.
“Precisely for these reasons, I would like to address my most heartfelt compliments to the winning farmers and companies as virtuous protagonists of the constant growth of the sector,” Battistoni said. “They offer consumers products of absolute excellence, telling the stories of our land and history through extra virgin olive oil without betraying our traditions.”
For many, the high-profile results of Italian producers are far from surprising due to the country’s strong olive oil culture.
According to the Institute of Services for the Agricultural and Food Market (Ismea), 49 Italian extra virgin olive oil regions have received Protected Designation of Origin or Protected Geographical Indication status from the European Union.
Italy is also one of the world’s leading producers of organic olive oil, which was also demonstrated by the results at the NYIOOC.
Of the 128 Gold Awards and 30 Silver Awards earned by Italian producers, 68 organic olive oils were awarded, more than in any other country. Overall, Italy is the second-largest exporter of organic goods after the United States.
“The success of Italian extra virgin olive oil is a confirmation of the incredible know-how of our producers,” Cristiano Fini, president of the Italian Agricultural Confederation, told Olive Oil Times. “Over time, they have focused on optimizing agronomic and extraction techniques, enhancing biodiversity and the link with the land and making investments and courageous choices.”
“The passion and tenacity of our olive growers, who face increasing challenges related to climate change and a competitive market, claim the due recognition on the international scene [with these awards],” he added. “In particular, in the United States, where Italian extra virgin olive oil has long been appreciated.”
Once again, producers from across the country were awarded at the NYIOOC. Most of the winning producers came from southern and central Italy. Extreme weather events in northern regions prevented as many producers from entering the competition as in previous years.
Among the winning producers was Olio DiMino. The Sicilian producer earned a Gold and Silver Award for its monovarietal Nocellara del Belice and Biancolilla.
“Winning two awards at the 2022 NYIOOC was stunning and filled us with pride,” owner Francesco Di Mino told Olive Oil Times. “They both certify how affection, passion and respect for the choices of those farmers who came before us are found in our extra virgin olive oil.”
“The awards are a significant incentive to continue on this path, which we took two years ago,” he added. “That was the time when our farm chose to not only grow excellent olives but also produce high-quality extra virgin olive oil.”
An engineer, just like his father and grandfather, Di Mino decided to produce olive oil at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. In two years, his Sicilian olive oils have won awards in several countries and were finally recognized in New York. Di Mino believes such prestigious awards tell the story of specific olive oil regions and traditions to the world.
“Behind each award, there are such interesting stories, which should be told to raise consumers’ awareness,” he said.
However, Di Mino believes that agriculture-adjacent professions in Italy and beyond could be doing more to help promote olive oil quality. For example, he said chefs could do more to incorporate extra virgin olive oils into different dishes.
“Producing high-quality extra virgin olive oil requires so much passion, sacrifice, faith and love, even though many consider it a commodity,” he said.
“This approach harms high-quality extra virgin olive oil, which comes from the direct contact of humanity with nature, a fascinating quest into the realms of opportunities, pathogens and weather which you cannot control,” Di Mino concluded.