Part of our continuing special coverage of the 2022 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.
Hundreds of farmers and producers have been celebrating their first-ever awards at the NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.
In the 2022 edition of the world’s largest olive oil quality competition, 223 producers received an award in their first time entering the contest, well above the rolling five-year average of 204 debut winners.
We have had some of our best sales weeks ever since winning Gold at the NYIOOC.
First-time winners told Olive Oil Times that receiving awards at the competition had already improved their brand’s credibility and boosted the sales of their extra virgin olive oils.See Also:The Best Olive Oils Marketplace
“We have had some of our best sales weeks ever since winning Gold at the NYIOOC,” said Tim Dugan, the managing director of Cockatoo Grove, an Australian producer from Victoria who won two Gold Awards for a pair of organic medium blends.
“We have had strong interest from a number of large retailers who have congratulated us on the win,” he added. “It has been powerful to have an affirmation like this.”
Dugan said he decided to enter the NYIOOC for professional feedback on his oils and to see how they compared with the best in the world.
“Any success we had would be a testament to the hard work and experience of our grove team and would raise the profile of our brand amongst consumers and retailers,” he said.
“At times, you can either be biased or too critical of your own oil,” Dugan added. “It was a very proud moment and a real thrill to hear we had been awarded Gold with both oils we entered.”
Cockatoo Grove was one of six producers from Australia who combined to win 13 awards at the NYIOOC.
Meanwhile, across the Pacific Ocean, the owner of Luretík from the Santa Ynez Valley in Central California scooped up a Silver Award. Elise Magistro said the impact on her brand has been noticeable since winning the award for her Sicily brand.
“It has helped us establish credibility and enhanced our reputation as a California producer of high-quality extra virgin olive oil,” she said. “We entered the NYIOOC to see how our organic extra virgin olive oil measured up against the best European olive oils and to elevate the profile of California extra virgin olive oil.”
For Magistro, supporting locally-produced olive oil is especially important in the United States, given the vast quantities Americans consume – an average of 370,000 tons per annum, according to the International Olive Council, a figure estimated to reach 401,000 tons in the current crop year.
She argues that sourcing olive oil domestically supports California’s economy and helps reduce a consumer’s carbon footprint.
“The award was unexpected, and the feeling is wonderful,” Magistro added, describing how it felt when she learned about the awards for Luretik’s organic medium blend of Nocellara del Belice and Cerasuola olives.
“Winning a Silver Award in New York validated our efforts and strengthened our resolve to improve our product and our customers’ experience,” she said.
Magistro added that although hot spring winds diminished their 2021 harvest, they were pleased with the high quality of their award-winning oil.
“Given all that Mother Nature can inflict on farmers, we were more than satisfied with the year’s harvest,” she said.
The Rio Grande do Sol-based producer was awarded for the first time at the competition for oils produced during its first commercial harvest, earning two Gold Awards for its Pedregais brand.
Co-owner Flavo Fernandes said the awards were helping his fledgling brand stand out from the competition and helping increase brand awareness among Brazilian consumers.
“Everyone recognizes that having two olive oils awarded at the NYIOOC during their first participation shows dedication in all stages of the process,” he said, “from the management of the plants, handling of fruits, manual harvest and extraction of the oil.”
Fernandes added that the company decided to enter the NYIOOC due to its reputation. “It was like saying: We have excellent olive oil; why not confirm that with a prize in an excellent contest,” he explained.
News of the company’s success in June came as a welcome relief after what Fernandes said was a relatively stressful process of “first, making sure the olive oils had arrived safely in New York and then waiting, daily, for a possible award, without any certainty.”
Finally, a wave of relief and happiness came for Fernandes and his family when the result was announced.
Across the Atlantic Ocean, Claire de Fina Coutin, the owner of Mas des Bories from southeastern France, said the Gold Award her team received for their medium blend at the 2022 NYIOOC made them happy and proud.
“This award has also given us new energy to continue, and it has improved our credibility with our customers,” she said.
Since their triumphs were announced in May, De Fina Coutin has noticed a strengthened trust in the brand among existing customers.
She said Mas des Bories entered the World Competition because they wanted the challenge of competing professionally at an international level.
“A second reason is related to the United States market, where our Mas des Bories oil has been present for several years,” she said. “The U.S. is one of my priority markets, so it also seemed important to me to be a part of this competition.”
De Fina Coutin said the previous harvest was slightly disappointing in volume compared to their expectations. “But the drop in production in 2021 was compensated by slightly above-average oil yields and very high oil quality,” she said.
Further southwest, in Portugal’s northern Trás-os-Montes region, Eduardo Casas celebrated winning a Gold Award for a medium organic blend.
The marketing manager of Mercorural said winning the coveted award, which they received with immense “joy and pride,” has now given them another tool with which to promote their brand.
“All of our bottles are delivered to customers with the award label,” he said.
Casas first learned about the competition after doing research online. He added that Mercorural produced its award-winning oil after a harvest he described as a success in terms of quality and quantity.
“We chose the right moment to start the harvest and assure that during that time, all procedures and logistics are settled,” he concluded.