Entering their second-highest number of brands, South African producers won a record-high number of Gold Awards at the World Olive Oil Competition.
Part of our continuing special coverage of the 2022 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.
South African producers earned 10 awards at the 2022 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition, a record-high number of awards for the sub-Saharan producer.
The record number of awards at the world’s largest olive oil quality competition comes on the back of a bumper harvest in the country. However, producers widely cited climate change as one of the biggest challenges they faced during the harvest.
It’s very fulfilling to enjoy the fruit of our labor and the results of meticulously applying the highest possible standards during harvesting and production.
Porterville Olives, South Africa’s biggest winner, scooped up three Gold Awards for their Andante brand, produced on Werêldsgeluk Olive Estate outside Porterville in the country’s Western Cape province.
The company took the Gold Awards for its medium-intensity Nocellara del Belice and Favolosa monovarietals, and their delicate Frantoio blend.See Also:The Best Olive Oils From South Africa
“We are very happy, grateful and humbled by the generosity of nature and the olive,” Willie Duminy, who co-owns Werêldsgeluk with his wife, Lisa, said. “They make the oil. We extract and protect it.”
“The hard work, perseverance and attention to detail of our farming, harvesting and milling teams, the quality of our trees and the gifts of abundant sunshine and a healthy climate are reflected in the character of the oil,” Duminy added.
Duminy hopes that winning these awards at the NYIOOC will help him promote his extra virgin olive oil to consumers as a healthy and flavorful alternative to their current cooking oils in South Africa and abroad.
“[The NYIOOC] allows South African oils – and Western Cape oils – to be benchmarked against the best in the world,” he said. “We believe that the three 2022 Gold Awards will enhance our Andante brand substantially, locally and internationally.”
The awards came as a welcome relief for the Duminys towards the end of the local harvest season. South African producers typically start harvesting in late February and finish in August.
“This year, the start of the harvest was delayed in our area by wet weather, which placed additional pressure on the mill once the season got underway,” Duminy said. “In addition, we had a few electro-mechanical and electronic breakdowns mostly due to power outages, called load-shedding in South Africa, that further pressured the milling team.”
“That apart, the season has been very good,” he added. “Volumes from our groves and our third-party suppliers are up, and the quality has been good overall.”
Duminy said the team at Werêldsgeluk combines the best environmentally sensitive and responsible farming methods with the latest harvesting and milling machinery.
“It takes careful hard work from everyone,” he said. “The pruners, tractor drivers, people doing weed-control and harvesters who work long, hard hours are the heroes in the olive mill.”
“I do not know whether Andante is unique, but I can say it expresses a lot of what is very good, if not unique, about our corner of the Western Cape and its people,” Duminy added.
Lions Creek Olive Estate, situated outside Leeu Gamka in the country’s Western Cape province, was another South African winner in New York, taking home a Gold and a Silver Award.
Louise Rabie, who co-owns Lions Creek Olive Estate with her husband, Andries, said they were elated after winning the Gold Award for their medium-intensity blend and the Silver Award for their delicate Picual.
“It’s very fulfilling to enjoy the fruit of our labor and the results of meticulously applying the highest possible standards during harvesting and production,” Rabie said. “NYIOOC awards provide consumers assurance that Lions Creek is committed to high quality.”
“Besides being one of the largest olive farms in South Africa, the wide variety of cultivars affords us the opportunity to offer an extensive range of extra virgin olive oils,” she added.
However, winning the awards at the NYIOOC did not come easy for the Rabies.
“Seven years of severe drought in the Karoo region of the Western Cape limited our production and forced us to optimize on what the groves delivered,” she said.
A few miles from Lions Creek, Galenia Estate also celebrated a Silver Award for its delicate Frantoio blend.
“It is a great result to achieve for entering for the first time,” farm manager Arthur Bailey said. “It’s a massive relief and shows that hard work does pay off.”
“It’s also good to know how well our oil keeps,” he added. “Entering a competition against the fresher Northern Hemisphere oils and coming out with a Silver, I feel, is a great achievement. It gives us confidence that what we are doing is working well and producing results that have now been globally recognized.”
The award came at a good time for Bailey, who has been dealing with a challenging harvest this year mainly due to a new olive press that was not functioning as it was supposed to.
Bailey said that their olive yield increased fivefold this year since the previous year.
“We knew it was going to be a challenge from the start,” he said. “We found giving cash incentives for picking over the daily targets increases the picking speed and rate and makes it easier to reach goals and targets.”
“Managing staff, making them pick properly without damaging trees, reaching daily picking targets and motivating the team is not easy; especially as the season goes on and everyone starts getting more tired,” Bailey added.