The careful analyses of more than 850 olive oils from 26 countries have begun in the offices and homes of expert tasters throughout the world — all part of an innovative remote-judging process for the NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition that was set into action amid the Covid-19 crisis.
In normal times, the 16 judges would meet this week in New York, with the assistance of a technical team and support staff, to determine the year’s best extra virgin olive oils. Then the coronavirus came and organizers began designing the protocols for remote judging now underway in nine countries around the world, most in some form of a lockdown or restricted travel.
The experts confer over a private video system as they taste each sample and record their observations using a state-of-the-art application developed by the NYIOOC that collects the data securely. A worldwide team of technicians manages the data in real-time.
Once the results are verified, the winning brands will be publicly unveiled in an interactive presentation starting on May 11 and continuing each day over the course of a week, from 9:00 AM until 12:00 noon (EDT) on the official results website.
Sending thousands of tasting samples around the world for sensory analysis was no easy task. Each entry was transferred to a set of tamper-evident, dark glass containers with zero headspace before being packed and shipped in a temperature-controlled case for protection and quality preservation during transport.
Cord said the early results had shown the remote judging system to be working perfectly.
“We are comparing the judges’ findings with samples of unopened bottles from our temperature-controlled library and we’re finding no noticeable degradation, thanks to the care with which they were prepared and shipped,” Cord explained.
Cord said the protocols and the professionalism of his judging experts and technical team will ensure accurate results and the administration of the competition at the highest standards, even as the world confronts an unprecedented crisis.
“We wish it weren’t necessary to do it this way,” Cord said earlier of the pioneering program. “But we are driven by our mission to recognize the commitment of olive oil producers, and this is the best way to do that under these conditions. They still have products to sell, and consumers still need to know which ones to buy.”
The NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition, held each spring, is the world’s largest and most prestigious olive oil contest and its annual listing of award winners is considered the authoritative guide to the year’s best extra virgin olive oils.
The complete results will be presented on the Official Index of the World’s Best Olive Oils in a new design that will also be unveiled May 11.