U.S. Olive Oil Producers Achieve Record-Breaking Success at World Competition

Olive oil producers from five states combined to earn 95 awards, exceeding the previous record of 94 set in 2022.

After a bumper harvest, U.S. olive oil producers achieved unprecedented success at the World Competition. (Photo: Durant Olive Mill)
By Daniel Dawson
May. 16, 2024 14:17 UTC
516
After a bumper harvest, U.S. olive oil producers achieved unprecedented success at the World Competition. (Photo: Durant Olive Mill)

Olive oil pro­duc­ers across the United States are prais­ing a record-high 95 awards at the 2024 NYIOOC Olive Oil Competition.

Farmers and millers from five states com­bined to win 62 Gold and 33 Silver Awards from 140 entries. It was the sec­ond-high­est num­ber of U.S. brands sub­mit­ted to the World Competition, slightly behind the 149 in 2017.

It con­tin­ues to cement our rep­u­ta­tion as a pre­mier pro­ducer.- Paul Durant, co-owner, Durant Olive Mill

Only Italian pro­duc­ers sub­mit­ted more entries and earned more awards at the world’s largest olive oil qual­ity con­test.

The unpar­al­leled suc­cess of American pro­duc­ers came after a bumper crop in California, where the over­whelm­ing major­ity of U.S. olive oil is pro­duced.

See Also:The best extra vir­gin olive oil from the U.S.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the United States pro­duced 12,000 tons of olive oil in the 2023/24 crop year. While wet weather across the Golden State relieved the severe drought con­di­tions, the rain also cre­ated agro­nomic and logis­ti­cal chal­lenges dur­ing the har­vest.

California Olive Ranch (COR), the largest U.S. olive oil pro­ducer, is among this year’s win­ners.

COR earned a Gold Award and Silver Award for its 100-per­cent California brands and a Gold Award for its Global Blend, made from 10 per­cent California olive oil. (Lucini, an Italian extra vir­gin olive oil owned by COR, also earned two Gold Awards.)

the-best-olive-oils-competitions-production-north-america-us-olive-oil-producers-achieve-recordbreaking-success-at-world-competition-olive-oil-times

Mary Mori is the vice president of quality and research at California Olive Ranch (Photo: California Olive Ranch)

We are elated to receive these hon­ors,” said Mary Mori, COR’s vice pres­i­dent of qual­ity and research and devel­op­ment. As one of the most rep­utable and trusted com­pe­ti­tions out there, receiv­ing these awards is always a pause for cel­e­bra­tion and a true tes­ta­ment to our com­mit­ment to pro­duc­ing great-tast­ing, high-qual­ity prod­ucts.”

Mori added that the awards came after a mod­er­ate crop,” prais­ing the work of the company’s farm­ing team for over­com­ing the main chal­lenges the com­pany faced and ensur­ing that the olives arrived from the groves to the mills quickly.

See Also:Data Will Define Next 25 Years at California Olive Ranch, CEO Says

The main issue was the heat – the warmer weather was­n’t ideal for pick­ing,” Mori said. As a result, we had to adjust irri­ga­tion tim­ing not to cause the fruit to shrivel and dry out.”

Luckily, these intense tem­per­a­tures occurred only dur­ing the first week of har­vest,” she added. The tem­per­a­tures cooled sig­nif­i­cantly, allow­ing us to go full boar into har­vest with lit­tle issues.”

The team behind Pasolivo cel­e­brated win­ning four NYIOOC awards, bring­ing their total to 36.

the-best-olive-oils-competitions-production-north-america-us-olive-oil-producers-achieve-recordbreaking-success-at-world-competition-olive-oil-times

Pasolivo is already pruning in preparation for another award-winning year in 2025. (Photo: Pasolivo)

According to Olive Oil Times World Rankings data, Pasolivo is the most-awarded U.S. pro­ducer in the competition’s 12-year his­tory and the fourth most suc­cess­ful over­all.

It is an honor to con­tinue to win such high acco­lades each year at this com­pe­ti­tion,” said gen­eral man­ager Marisa Bloch. Continuously win­ning such amaz­ing acco­lades helps solid­ify the valid­ity and qual­ity of our brand,” she added. We con­tinue to show con­sumers that we are a top pro­ducer who con­tin­ues to bring qual­ity to the table.”

Bloch said Pasolivo enjoyed a bumper 2023/24 har­vest, but rain pushed back the orig­i­nal har­vest date, result­ing in a race against time to har­vest the olives while still green.

Harvest was later due to all of the rain ear­lier in the year,” she said. We just have to make sure we don’t push har­vest too late, pos­si­bly run­ning into the rainy sea­son of the fol­low­ing year.”

Advertisement
Advertisement

California-based pro­duc­ers earned 86 of 95 awards at the NYIOOC, with pro­duc­ers from Arizona, Florida, Oregon and Texas earn­ing the rest.

The most suc­cess­ful pro­ducer out­side the Golden State was Oregon-based Durant Olive Mill, which earned two Gold Awards and a Silver Award.

the-best-olive-oils-competitions-production-north-america-us-olive-oil-producers-achieve-recordbreaking-success-at-world-competition-olive-oil-times

Along with confronting freezing temperatures, Paul Durant said the team had to get used to new state-of-the-art Pieralisi milling equipment. (Photo: Durant Olive Mill)

The impact [of win­ning NYIOOC awards] is greater and greater each year,” said co-owner Paul Durant. It shows that over the arc of many years and many chal­lenges, we are able to con­sis­tently craft high-qual­ity olive oils that our cus­tomers have come to rely on. It con­tin­ues to cement our rep­u­ta­tion as a pre­mier pro­ducer.”

The pio­neer­ing olive oil pro­ducer said Oregonian olive farm­ers had to over­come a sig­nif­i­cant freeze, which low­ered the amount of fruit they could har­vest.

This is the third year in a row that a por­tion of the crop has been lost,” Durant said. For the 2024 grow­ing sea­son, we have installed wind machines to mit­i­gate risk and hope­fully buy us addi­tional har­vest time.”

On the other side of the coun­try, the pro­duc­ers behind 15 Olives cel­e­brated three Silver Awards for extra vir­gin olive oils pro­duced in Florida and California, the company’s first World Competition recog­ni­tions.

the-best-olive-oils-competitions-production-north-america-us-olive-oil-producers-achieve-recordbreaking-success-at-world-competition-olive-oil-times

15 Olives founder Stuart Alfonso inspects Arbequina olives in the company’s Florida grove. (Photo: 15 Olives)

Being awarded in this com­pe­ti­tion allows us to take a deep breath and enjoy the fruits of our labor,” said Krisi Groce. We work hard to edu­cate the pub­lic on the qual­ity of extra vir­gin olive oil, and this award backs up what we say.”

The com­pany earned the awards for a pair of Arbequina-based blends and a Frantoio-based blend.

Our pro­duc­tion is cur­rently in Florida and California,” Groce said. We pro­duce a blend of olive oils directly from our pro­duc­tion that we entered into the com­pe­ti­tion. Our Arbequina olives grow really well here in Florida, and our Tuscan vari­eties from California are a per­fect award-win­ning blend.”

Groce said 15 Olives enjoyed an excep­tional pro­duc­tion sea­son in California. As always, the har­vest in sub­trop­i­cal Florida pre­sented a range of chal­lenges.

Florida pro­duc­tion has many chal­lenges. We are in a trop­i­cal cli­mate – very humid and rainy – and when it comes to har­vest­ing, mos­qui­tos will chew you up,” she said. We har­vest early to mid-August when it’s hot and wet, and the bugs are unfor­giv­ing. Having fam­ily and friends who want to par­tic­i­pate in this process is the key.”

In the south­west, the pro­duc­ers behind Arziona’s first com­mer­cial olive oil pro­ducer cel­e­brated a Silver Award at the 2024 NYIOOC. This was the com­pa­ny’s third acco­lade from the com­pe­ti­tion but the first from solely Arizona-grown olives.

the-best-olive-oils-competitions-production-north-america-us-olive-oil-producers-achieve-recordbreaking-success-at-world-competition-olive-oil-times

Founder Perry Rea planting new olive trees in Arizona (Photo: Queen Creek Olive Mill)

Many of our locals and vis­i­tors will always ques­tion what qual­ity of extra vir­gin olive oil an Arizona pro­ducer can make because we are the only ones doing it,” said John Rea, the pres­i­dent of Queen Creek Olive Mill. This award feels extra spe­cial because the prod­uct achieved was cre­ated from olives grown and milled on our farm in Queen Creek, Arizona.”

Rea said the main chal­lenge he faces to pro­duce award-win­ning extra vir­gin olive oil is tim­ing the har­vest, which dif­fers from all other U.S. pro­duc­ers due to Arizona’s desert-con­ti­nen­tal cli­mate.

Harvest in Arizona is slightly later in the year than in California because of the cli­mate,” he said, so we have to keep a close eye on the grove through November and early December.”


Share this article

Advertisement
Advertisement

Related Articles