Spanish Producers Celebrate Award-Winning Finish After Demanding Harvest

Farmers and millers from the world’s largest olive oil-producing country earned 82 awards, overcoming high temperatures and drought in the process.

Despite unseasonable spring heat and drought, producers from Spain combined to win 81 awards at the 2024 NYIOOC. (Photo: Marqués de Valdueza)
By Daniel Dawson
May. 10, 2024 16:40 UTC
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Despite unseasonable spring heat and drought, producers from Spain combined to win 81 awards at the 2024 NYIOOC. (Photo: Marqués de Valdueza)

Olive farm­ers and millers in Spain, the world’s largest olive oil-pro­duc­ing coun­try, once again over­came extreme tem­per­a­tures and dry weather to pro­duce world-class extra vir­gin olive oil.

Eighty-two extra vir­gin olive oil brands from six autonomous com­mu­ni­ties earned awards at the 2024 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.

We can see that all of our hard work is pay­ing off (by win­ning two Gold Awards) and that the cen­turies of olive oil tra­di­tion have not gone to waste on the Valdueza fam­ily- John Cancilla, sales man­ager, Marqués de Valdueza

According to the lat­est data, Spain pro­duced 846,800 tons in the 2023/24 crop year, sig­nif­i­cantly below the aver­age of the past half-decade but far higher than last year’s his­tor­i­cally poor har­vest.

Farmers and millers over­came the com­bi­na­tion of many olive trees pro­duc­ing less fruit and lower oil accu­mu­la­tion lev­els due to extreme spring tem­per­a­ture swings and the impacts of the drought.

See Also:The best extra vir­gin olive oils from Spain

High tem­per­a­tures in the autumn, when many pro­duc­ers started their early har­vests, also com­pli­cated efforts to pro­duce award-win­ning extra vir­gin olive oil.

This was espe­cially true in Andalusia, Spain’s largest olive oil-pro­duc­ing region, where two-thirds of the country’s World Competition awards were won. Spain’s largest autonomous com­mu­nity pro­duced 574,295 tons in the 2023/24 crop year.

This year has been espe­cially dif­fi­cult because the high tem­per­a­tures in October have made it dif­fi­cult for the olive tree to syn­the­size the oil and for us to per­form cold extrac­tion in the mill,” said Juan Ignacio, the chief exec­u­tive of La Olivilla, which earned its tenth con­sec­u­tive World Competition award for Dehesa de la Sabina.

He described win­ning the Gold Award for the organic medium-inten­sity Picual as the hap­pi­est of end­ings” after a com­pli­cated har­vest.”

The award allows us to con­sol­i­date and posi­tion Dehesa de la Sabina as a ref­er­ence in the inter­na­tional mar­ket and dif­fer­en­ti­ate our oil from oth­ers,” Ignacio added.

Fellow Andalusian pro­ducer Luque Ecológico also cel­e­brated win­ning a Gold Award at the 2024 NYIOOC.

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Juan Manuel Luque, Belen Luque and Rafael Gálvez (Photo: Luque Ecológico)

Similarly, the organic farm­ers over­came high tem­per­a­tures and drought to win a ninth straight award. Still, they admit­ted that the com­pany pro­duced about half as much olive oil as it would in an aver­age year.

While win­ning awards at the com­pe­ti­tion vin­di­cates the abil­ity of organic and sus­tain­able pro­duc­tion to achieve con­sis­tently high qual­ity, sales and qual­ity man­ager Rafael Gálvez said the awards are also among the best mar­ket­ing tools.

These awards are undoubt­edly mar­ket­ing tools that help com­pa­nies posi­tion their prod­ucts as high qual­ity and are appre­ci­ated by cus­tomers,” he said. It helps to posi­tion the image of the com­pany and help with sales.”

On the other side of Spain, farm­ers and millers in Catalonia earned the sec­ond-high­est amount of NYIOOC awards with 12.

During the har­vest, pro­duc­ers in the autonomous com­mu­nity, Spain’s fourth-high­est pro­duc­ing region, also over­came severe drought, includ­ing water restric­tions in Catalonia’s east­ern half.

Winning the Silver Award at NYIOOC is an honor for us,” said Alba Comadran Turu, a spokesper­son at Lleida-based Guadea. It rec­og­nizes our con­stant com­mit­ment to excel­lence and qual­ity in every step of our pro­duc­tion process. We are proud that our efforts are reflected in this pres­ti­gious award.”

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Gaudea chief executive Gerard Camps (Photo: Gaudea)

She added, We face var­i­ous chal­lenges in pro­duc­ing our high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil. From vary­ing weather con­di­tions to the metic­u­lous selec­tion of olives, each stage of the process presents its own chal­lenges.”

Gaudea spe­cial­izes in pro­duc­ing Arbequina mono­va­ri­etal extra vir­gin olive oil with the Les Garrigues Protected Designation of Origin cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. Comadran said win­ning at the NYIOOC will help raise the pro­file of their brand inter­na­tion­ally.

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We are con­fi­dent that the NYIOOC award will have a sig­nif­i­cant impact on our brand, espe­cially in the inter­na­tional mar­ket,” she said. We hope that this recog­ni­tion will open new oppor­tu­ni­ties for us in the mar­ket and strengthen our posi­tion in the pro­duc­tion of pre­mium olive oils.”

Situated less than 200 kilo­me­ters from the Catalan coast­line, pro­duc­ers on Mallorca in the Balearic Islands com­bined to earn three awards at the World Competition.

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Son Maragues 1921 celebrated its award-winning organic Empeltre, harvested from terraced olive groves in the Tramuntana Mountains. (Photo: Son Moragues 1921)

It’s an honor to have achieved this award, which we under­stand as recog­ni­tion for our con­stant improve­ment in our search for excel­lence,“ said Mariano Valdés.

The chief exec­u­tive of Son Moragues 1921 hailed the company’s Gold Award for an organic medium Empeltre. This dis­tinc­tion con­firms that we are on the right path,” he said.

See Also:World Competition updates

The com­pany focuses on pro­duc­ing olive oil from organ­i­cally cul­ti­vated cen­te­nary trees on dry stone ter­races in the heart of the Tramuntana Mountains.

This year, we have been lucky in terms of weather, and the sea­son has been good,” Valdés said. However, increas­ing cli­mate insta­bil­ity, irreg­u­lar rain­fall, mild win­ters and extreme sum­mers are mak­ing the sur­vival of this valu­able nat­ural and cul­tural her­itage increas­ingly dif­fi­cult.”

Son Moragues 1921 is expand­ing into new mar­kets, and Valdés believes that the award will help the com­pany attract new cus­tomers.

Knowing the pres­tige that this dis­tinc­tion grants, we pre­dict an impor­tant boost in the con­sol­i­da­tion of our brand, which could not come at a bet­ter time,” he said.

On the Spanish main­land, pro­duc­ers in Castilla-La Mancha, the country’s sec­ond-largest pro­duc­ing region, cel­e­brated win­ning nine NYIOOC awards.

Among the win­ners were the more than 750 fam­i­lies who make up the Olivarera de Valdepeñas social coop­er­a­tive, also known as Colival, which earned a Gold Award for a medium Arbequina.

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Drought and high temperatures resulted in lower production but enhanced organoleptic quality for the members of Colival. (Photo: Colival)

Our suc­cess is work­ing as a team with the farmer,” said Eva Díaz, a spokes­woman for the coop­er­a­tive.

Since extra vir­gin olive oil begins with high-qual­ity fruit, she praised the mem­ber farm­ers for their cru­cial role in another suc­cess­ful sea­son in Valdepeñas, about two hours south of Madrid.

We advise the farmer on the opti­mal time of har­vest­ing, sac­ri­fic­ing per­for­mance in exchange for qual­ity,” Díaz said. This way, we obtain olive juice with organolep­tic qual­i­ties dif­fer­ent from other oils. In the oil mill, we pam­per the olives, work­ing with­out tem­per­a­ture, a quick process and obtain­ing a prod­uct full of polyphe­nols.”

While Castilla-La Mancha had not been spared from the impacts of the hot weather and drought, Díaz said the water stress had con­tributed to the cooperative’s suc­cess at the World Competition.

See Also:Olive Oil Times World Rankings

Castilla-La Mancha expe­ri­enced a severe drought and very dry tem­per­a­tures in sum­mer, which caused water stress in the fruit and, there­fore, led to the pun­gency and bit­ter­ness in the oil,” she said.

Díaz believes sus­tained suc­cess at the World Competition – Colival has been awarded in each of the last nine edi­tions of the con­test – helps the coop­er­a­tive export into the lucra­tive North American mar­ket.

She said, The impact is con­verted into a mar­ket­ing and sales strat­egy in the North American area. Awards are brand posi­tion­ing.”

In neigh­bor­ing Extremadura – Spain’s third-largest pro­duc­ing region, which expe­ri­enced the great­est pro­duc­tion increase in the 2023/24 crop year – the team behind Marqués de Valdueza also cel­e­brated the role their two lat­est World Competition awards would play in export­ing their prod­ucts.

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Alonso and Fadrique Perales (Photo: Marqués de Valdueza)

The com­pany, which orig­i­nates in the House of Alvarez de Toledo and has been pro­duc­ing olive oil since 1624, cel­e­brated the Gold Awards for a pair of medium blends: its flag­ship Maqués de Valdueza and Merula brands.

By con­stantly receiv­ing NYIOOC awards, we have been able to give tan­gi­ble proof to the mar­ket that Marqués de Valdueza is an olive oil that can be ranked among the best in the world,” said sales man­ager John Cancilla. We feel that this acco­lade has enhanced the pres­tige of our oil and, in turn, helped sales in the very com­pet­i­tive U.S. mar­ket.”

Dispute the chal­lenges faced in pro­duc­ing its extra vir­gin olive oil, Cancilla attrib­uted the company’s suc­cess to a ver­ti­cally inte­grated farm­ing and milling that allows it to mon­i­tor qual­ity at every step in the process.

The most sig­nif­i­cant ele­ment that gave us this out­stand­ing oil is the con­stant appli­ca­tion of our inte­grated pro­duc­tion method,” Cancilla con­firmed. This method entails care­ful plan­ning and exe­cu­tion of norms and pro­ce­dures that give us a Marqués de Valdueza olive oil capa­ble of con­sis­tently win­ning the NYIOOC Gold Award, year after year.”

We can see that all of our hard work is pay­ing off and that the cen­turies of olive oil tra­di­tion have not gone to waste on the Valdueza fam­ily,” he con­cluded.


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