At 2017 NYIOOC: Signs of the 'Sea Change We Have Been Waiting For'

After a challenging harvest season and a 30 percent drop in global production, more brands than ever were analyzed at the world's largest olive oil competition -- a strong sign of the growing number of producers focused on quality.
Olivko's Karim Fitouri accepts a Gold Award at the 2017 NYIOOC for his Chetoui monovarietal olive oil.
By Hannah Howard
Apr. 28, 2017 09:42 UTC

After four days of ana­lyz­ing 910 olive oils from 27 coun­tries, the win­ners of the fifth annual New York International Olive Oil Competition (NYIOOC) were revealed last night at a press con­fer­ence.

Despite a dif­fi­cult har­vest sea­son that led to a 30 per­cent drop in global pro­duc­tion, more olive oil pro­duc­ers than ever before sub­mit­ted their brands to be judged at the world’s largest olive oil com­pe­ti­tion, over­com­ing count­less chal­lenges in their pur­suit of qual­ity.

This is the begin­ning of the sea change we have been wait­ing for. Producers in every region have answered our call and lifted their game.- Curtis Cord, NYIOOC President

Curtis Cord, the founder of the NYIOOC and the pub­lisher of Olive Oil Times said before unveil­ing the win­ners, We are not here only to cel­e­brate the win­ners of this com­pe­ti­tion, we’re here for a much big­ger pur­pose — to rec­og­nize and applaud every pro­ducer who has set out to craft the best olive oil pos­si­ble under what­ever con­di­tions you faced this time.”

Each year brings its own set of con­di­tions and chal­lenges and while some pro­duc­ers seem to have locked in on a win­ning for­mula, we have seen new enter­prises emerge every year to claim their award. This means that every pro­ducer com­mit­ted to excel­lence is a win­ner. You might not be rec­og­nized today, but it will hap­pen.“
See Also:The World’s Best Olive Oils
This is the fifth year of the com­pe­ti­tion and the largest of its kind. Fifteen experts from every olive oil-pro­duc­ing region make up the elite panel of judges who sniff and sip blind sam­ples to deter­mine the cream of this year’s crop.

Cord said that the pro­ceed­ings over the four days had gone smoothly. Our judg­ing panel and sup­port teams have worked tire­lessly through­out the week and I’m very pleased with the results,” he said.

Cord made his announce­ments before 200 pro­duc­ers, retail­ers, dis­trib­u­tors, chefs and jour­nal­ists at the sold-out event. Anyone who has vis­ited an olive grove or wit­nessed the mak­ing of high-qual­ity olive oil knows the painstak­ing work, every­day chal­lenges, and dif­fi­cult deci­sions that go into mak­ing this prod­uct,” he began.

It’s a dif­fi­culty well under­stood and echoed by the dozens of pro­duc­ers who trav­eled from far and wide to attend the event. It’s worth it,” said one dis­trib­u­tor, who sub­mit­ted her oil for the first time this year. This is like the olive oil Grammys.” Viewers from around the world, who watched the live-streamed broad­cast online joined the New York crowd, wait­ing with antic­i­pa­tion for the award-win­ners to be divulged.

The NYIOOC panel of judges, com­prised of 15 expert tasters from Tunisia, Australia, Japan, Spain, Greece, Italy, US, France, Argentina, and Turkey, metic­u­lously blind- tasted all 910 oils — the largest inter­na­tional col­lec­tion of olive oils ever assem­bled.

These judges are not only the top tasters in the world with years of expe­ri­ence and impres­sive track records, they share a deep respect for this prod­uct and the peo­ple behind it which they demon­strate by their intense focus on every sam­ple — an extreme level of con­cen­tra­tion that I have wit­nessed 910 times over the past four days,” Cord said.

Italian olive oil brands took home the most awards for the third year in a row — 124 extra vir­gin olive oils from Italy received awards. Spain came in a close sec­ond, with 110 awards. 71 olive oils from the U.S. received recog­ni­tion. Greek pro­duc­ers more than dou­bled their num­ber of win­ners from last year with 47 awards. More olive oils from around the world were rep­re­sented among the win­ners than ever before, from coun­tries includ­ing Portugal, Slovenia, South Africa, Croatia, Uruguay, Morocco, Brazil, and China. Altogether, 463 brands were des­ig­nated the world’s best, 149 more than last year.

Olivko’s Karim Fitouri of Tunisia accepts a Gold Award at the 2017 NYIOOC for his Chetoui monovarietal olive oil.

There are now more top-qual­ity oils, from more places than at any other time,” Cord said. The data from four days of tast­ings by the world’s most expe­ri­enced panel of sen­sory ana­lysts over­whelm­ingly proves that efforts to make great olive oil around the world are pay­ing off — pro­duc­ers in every region have answered our call and lifted their game.”

We now have 463 brands of world-class prod­ucts to choose from. 463 pro­duc­ers who came to New York this year with some­thing to prove. 463 olive oils that are fresh, health­ful, aro­matic, well bal­anced and deli­cious. This is the begin­ning of the sea change we have been wait­ing for. Our judg­ing panel’s metic­u­lous analy­sis has exposed a clear upward trend in qual­ity,” Cord said.

Winners ascended the stage to col­lect their sleek NYIOOC tro­phies. The crowd sipped cock­tails and sam­pled hors d’oeu­vres made by International Culinary Center (ICC) stu­dents. Cord took a moment to reflect on the loss of Dorothy Cann Hamilton, the vision­ary founder of the International Culinary Center, who cham­pi­oned and hosted the first NYIOOC at her school. The culi­nary world is not what it was, but her vision lives on,” Cord said.

The win­ning olive oils are cov­eted by chefs, retail­ers and dis­cern­ing con­sumers every­where who value extra vir­gin olive oils of the very high­est qual­ity. The award def­i­nitely grows sales,” said María Martínez De Ubago Arias, who won her third award for her Albea Blanca, a medium-bod­ied Koreneiki from Spain, and trav­eled from Madrid to be a part of the evening.

The full list of New York International Olive Oil Competition win­ners can be found on the offi­cial results web­site, along with detailed infor­ma­tion on all of the oils.

Enthusiasts and busi­nesses can pur­chase the bot­tles on the Best New Olive Oils Marketplace por­tal, which con­nects pro­duc­ers, dis­trib­u­tors, and cus­tomers. The win­ning brands will also be fea­tured in the first annual Guide to the World’s Best Olive Oils,” a printed guide­book that will be pub­lished in May.


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