Award-Winning Portuguese Producers React to Initial NYIOOC Results

With 16 awards so far, Portuguese producers have built on their traditionally strong performance at the world's most prestigious olive oil quality competition while they underscore the diversity of the region's offerings.

Trás-os-Montes Company, from northern Portugal, won three awards this year.
May. 15, 2020
By Pablo Esparza
Trás-os-Montes Company, from northern Portugal, won three awards this year.

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Until recently we didn’t even know if the NYIOOC was going to take place,” Ana Carrilho, pro­duc­tion man­ager of Esporão Azeites, told Olive Oil Times. Finally, it did and we are very happy.”

Esporão Selecção, a well-estab­lished brand from Alentejo, Portugal’s main olive oil pro­duc­ing region, has won one Gold and two Silver Awards at this year’s edi­tion of the NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition, which is reveal­ing its results every day this week.

This award means that we are among the best in the world and tells us that we are doing good work in the olive groves.- Gonçalo Rosa da Silva, pro­ducer at Azeite Angélica

We are very glad about the results and about the fact that year after year, they are con­sis­tent. Especially in such a dif­fi­cult year,” Carrilho added.

The com­pe­ti­tions orga­niz­ers announced in March that the inter­na­tional panel would remotely judge the qual­ity of the com­pet­ing olive oils due to the mobil­ity restric­tions imposed by the coro­n­avirus cri­sis.

See Also: More From the 2020 NYIOOC

The com­pe­ti­tion reg­is­tered 881 entries from 26 coun­tries for its eighth edi­tion. With 52 entries – a slightly lower fig­ure than the 67 par­tic­i­pants in 2019 and 2018 – Portugal has already won 16 awards, eight Gold and eight Silver, con­sol­i­dat­ing its strong per­for­mance at the annual con­test. The results will con­tinue to roll out through tomor­row, the NYIOOC said.

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In the 2019/20 sea­son, Portugal har­vested 125,400 tons of olive oil and a recent study sug­gests that Portugal has the poten­tial to become the third-largest pro­ducer in the world by 2030.

We are very glad. This is the biggest con­test in the world for extra vir­gin olive oil and it gives a lot of expo­sure to the brand,” António Duarte, the sales man­ager of Monterosa, told Olive Oil Times. This year is the sixth con­sec­u­tive edi­tion in which we par­tic­i­pated.”

One thing we appre­ci­ate is the good com­mu­ni­ca­tion envi­ron­ment around the com­pe­ti­tion,” he added. This has helped us to start work­ing with some new com­pa­nies and for such a small pro­ducer like us, that’s very impor­tant.”

Monterosa, whose 37-acre estate is located in the south­ern region of Algarve, won two Gold Awards at the NYIOOC for its Cobrançosa and Picual oils and two Silver Awards, for its blend and its Macanilha de Tavira, a tra­di­tional cul­ti­var from the area.

Algarve is not very well known for olive oil and these awards show that it is pos­si­ble to pro­duce high-qual­ity oil any­where in the coun­try,” Duarte said.

Although some 70 per­cent of the country’s pro­duc­tion is har­vested in the Alentejo region, regional diver­sity is a key fac­tor to under­stand Portugal’s olive oil sec­tor.

The Iberian country’s oil exports more than tripled in the last decade, grow­ing from 51,774 tons in 2010 to 158,688 in 2019, accord­ing to Casa do Azeite, Portugal’s olive oil pro­ducer asso­ci­a­tion. But, apart from increas­ing its pro­duc­tion, Portugal is strength­en­ing its pro­file as a high-qual­ity pro­ducer.

Azeite Angélica is also a fam­ily pro­ducer, but in this case based in the region of Moura, in Alentejo. They won a Gold Award for their medium blend of local vari­eties Galega, Cordovil and Verdeal at the NYIOOC.

Our olive trees are ancient, non-watered trees. That, along with our bet on tra­di­tional cul­ti­vars, is key for the qual­ity of our olive oil,” Gonçalo Rosa da Silva, Angélica’s pro­ducer, told Olive Oil Times.

Nowadays, Portuguese olive oils are at the same level as the best ones in the world,” Rosa da Silva added. Our local vari­eties are very com­plex from an organolep­tic point of view and that qual­ity is reflected on inter­na­tional awards such as this.”

The NYIOOC is a com­pe­ti­tion that offers great vis­i­bil­ity and the Best Olive Oils Index has become a ref­er­ence within the sec­tor,” he con­tin­ued. This award means that we are among the best in the world and tells us that we are doing good work in the olive groves.”

Duarte pointed to the years of the lat­est eco­nomic cri­sis as a turn­ing point for the olive oil sec­tor in the coun­try.

Portugal lived through a very tough eco­nomic cri­sis a few years ago and pro­duc­ers started to shift direc­tion,” he said. We saw many pro­duc­ers invest­ing in new machin­ery and focus­ing on bet­ter qual­ity in the last few years.”

Carrilho agreed that Portuguese oils are fol­low­ing a pos­i­tive trend, both in terms of qual­ity and quan­tity.

If we talk about new trends in olive grow­ing, we need to talk about Portugal,” she said. Basically because we have started from scratch and most of the new olive groves and olive mills are focused on qual­ity.”

Our aim is to make a dif­fer­ence thanks to the qual­ity and to our local cul­ti­vars,” Carrilho added. I’m opti­mistic regard­ing the future of olive oil in Portugal. And I am glad that every year there are more and more award-win­ning Portuguese olive oils.”


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