Latin American Producers Celebrate Another Successful Year at NYIOOC

Producers from Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico overcame drought and other challenges during the 2019 harvest to win a combined 14 awards at the World Olive Oil Competition.

The olive groves of Olisur are located in the Colchagua Valley.
May. 25, 2020
By Daniel Dawson
The olive groves of Olisur are located in the Colchagua Valley.

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Widespread droughts across Latin America dried up the num­ber of entries from the region to the 2020 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition, but not the qual­ity of the olive oils.

Producers from five dif­fer­ent coun­tries com­bined to send in 28 entries and received 14 awards, of which eight were Silvers and six were Golds.

On a crowded shelf, with some­times lit­tle or no avail­able infor­ma­tion at all, it’s dif­fi­cult to stand out. An award from a pres­ti­gious com­pe­ti­tion like the NYIOOC is a huge recog­ni­tion.- Claudio Lovazzano, mar­ket­ing man­ager of Olivos del Sur

The biggest win­ners at the world’s pre­mier olive oil qual­ity con­test were Chilean pro­duc­ers, how­ever, who earned a com­bined three Gold and three Silver Awards.

This is huge for us,” Claudio Lovazzano, the mar­ket­ing man­ager of Olivos del Sur, told Olive Oil Times. We are very happy and hon­ored to be among the win­ners. This is not only a recog­ni­tion of all our pre­vi­ous efforts, but the com­mit­ment that we have to all of our loyal cus­tomers, part­ners, work­ers, and of course, to our high-qual­ity process.”

See more: Special Coverage: 2020 NYIOOC

Olivos del Sur earned a Gold Award for their O‑Live & Co brand, a medium blend. Lovazzano said that the tim­ing of the har­vest is what sets O‑Live & Co apart from so many other olive oils and part of why the oil earned a Gold Award in its first year at the com­pe­ti­tion.

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Our first cold extrac­tion process is done in just three to four hours, and we do this with a deep respect for the envi­ron­ment and our com­mu­nity,” Lovazzano said.

He added that he expects the award will help boost sales in the United States, far and away the largest for­eign mar­ket for Olivos del Sur as well as many other Chilean pro­duc­ers.

On a crowded shelf, with some­times lit­tle or no avail­able infor­ma­tion at all, it’s dif­fi­cult to stand out,” Lovazzano said. An award from a pres­ti­gious com­pe­ti­tion like the NYIOOC is a huge recog­ni­tion, and of course, it’s a fresh moti­va­tion to keep doing what we like most: craft­ing high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil!”

The olive groves of Olisur are located in the Colchagua Valley.

Chile’s other Gold Award-win­ner was Alonso Olive Oil, which was awarded for a medium Coratina. The O’Higgins-based pro­ducer also earned a Silver Award for a medium blend.

José Manuel Reyes said the awards were great news for the pro­duc­ers and con­firm that they con­tinue to move in the right direc­tion with their pro­duc­tion prac­tices and tech­niques.

He added that after the pro­longed drought that Chile has faced, it was good to see that the qual­ity of the oils had not suf­fered.

Last year, we faced a drought that affected Chile greatly,” Manuel Reyes said. The rains were scarce and we were still strug­gling from 2018, which was also a very dry and hot year. It was a tremen­dous chal­lenge since we had to man­age and opti­mize in the best way the water that we had avail­able.”

While pro­duc­ers through­out Latin America cited the lack of rain as one of their biggest chal­lenges, drought was not the only one that faced Chilean pro­duc­ers.

Our main chal­lenge was the low pro­duc­tion of the orchard, which was affected by spring frost events,” Felipe Valle, the export man­ager of Aura Olive Oil, told Olive Oil Times. It was a prob­lem for pro­duc­ers, in gen­eral.”

However, the pro­ducer, which is based in the country’s fer­tile Central Valley, still came away from the NYIOOC with two Silver Awards, for a medium and del­i­cate blend.

We are happy, espe­cially since we con­tinue to cor­rob­o­rate the high qual­ity of our oils year after year with the panel of experts in this con­test,” Valle said. One of our main objec­tives is to be con­sis­tent over time with the pro­files of our brands and we think that we have achieved it.”

Valle said that Aura Olive Oil will send news of its awards to its clients, some­thing the com­pany does every year. This helps to strengthen exist­ing bonds and also opens up to the door to enter­ing new mar­kets and cre­at­ing new rela­tion­ships.

Without a doubt, this is a source of pride, when sell­ing a qual­ity prod­uct, and in turn our clients will be able to com­mu­ni­cate it to the final con­sumer, increas­ing their loy­alty and sales,” he said.

Harvesting by mechan­i­cal means in the groves of Alonso Olive Oil.

On the other side of the Andes Mountains, a pair of Argentine pro­duc­ers also cel­e­brated their tri­umphs at the 2020 NYIOOC. Overall, Argentines earned four awards at this year’s com­pe­ti­tion: two Gold and two Silver.

It is a great sat­is­fac­tion to make olive oils using mechan­i­cal meth­ods and to be able to obtain a final prod­uct of excel­lent qual­ity, accord­ing to a very demand­ing audi­ence, such as the jury of the NYIOOC,” Patricia Calderón, the direc­tor of Establecimiento Olivum, told Olive Oil Times.

The San Juan-based pro­ducer earned a Gold Award for a medium blend and a Silver Award for a medium Coratina at this year’s NYIOOC.

Calderón said the biggest chal­lenge fac­ing Argentine pro­duc­ers is the inabil­ity to deter­mine the sale price of their final prod­uct (due to infla­tion and volatile olive oil prices), which has led the com­pany to con­tinue seek­ing ways to pro­duce oil more effi­ciently.

Our biggest chal­lenge is to com­pete in a mar­ket where we do not put the price of the final prod­uct, which forces us year after year to improve our effi­ciency, seek­ing to reduce our costs,” she said.

Some of these same efforts to increase the effi­ciency of the har­vest have also helped main­tain the company’s high-qual­ity stan­dards.

Our extra vir­gin olive oils are made with green olives, milled two hours after har­vest and with the tem­per­a­ture and grind­ing time-con­trolled,” Calderón said.

Mendoza-based Olivum Laur was the other win­ning Argentine pro­ducer, earn­ing a Gold and Silver Award as well.

While it was no great sur­prise to see Chilean and Argentine pro­duc­ers receive mul­ti­ple awards from the NYIOOC, Olibaja became the first Mexican pro­ducer to win at the world’s most pres­ti­gious olive oil qual­ity com­pe­ti­tion since 2018.

We are very happy and excited,” man­ager Susana Zamora told Olive Oil Times. We were hop­ing to win an award. It was well worth all the work of the Olibaja team.”

I think the award will have a large impact on our brand,” she added. It is a great honor to be the only Mexican brand that par­tic­i­pated at the NYIOOC. That inspires us to try harder and harder.”

The team behind Olibaja.

Olibaja, which is located in north­ern Baja California, won a Silver Award for their medium blend of Mission and Manzanilla olives.

Zamora said this year’s award was espe­cially grat­i­fy­ing after cop­ing with a tough drought on the north­west­ern Mexican penin­sula.

The biggest chal­lenge we faced last year was the water short­age in the Valle de Guadalupe area of Baja California,” she said. Each har­vest, it is increas­ingly crit­i­cal for ensur­ing our pro­duc­tion.”

Nearly 6,000 miles south­east of Valle de Guadalupe, one of Brazil’s award-win­ning pro­duc­ers also wor­ried about the unusu­ally dry weather dur­ing the har­vest.

Rio Grande do Sul had the biggest drought in decades,” Rafael Marchetti, the direc­tor of Prosperato, told Olive Oil Times. For a large period of the har­vest it was great for the qual­ity of the extra vir­gin olive oils because their high con­tent of polyphe­nols was being pre­served by the lack of water, but at the end of the har­vest the olive trees were really suf­fer­ing, and we were a lit­tle bit wor­ried about it.”

Fortunately for Marchetti and the rest of the pro­duc­ers in Rio Grande do Sul, rain came shortly after the har­vest.

At the 2020 NYIOOC, Brazilian pro­duc­ers earned one Gold and two Silver awards. Marchetti and Prosperato received a Gold Award for their del­i­cate Koroneiki and a Silver Award for their del­i­cate blend, while com­pa­tri­ots Azeite Batalha earned a Silver Award for a del­i­cate Koroneiki.

Marchetti wel­comed the awards as a piece of good news in an oth­er­wise dif­fi­cult start to 2020.

Harvesting at Prosperato’s grove in São Sepé.

Receiving awards is always great for improv­ing our brand,” he said. We see this as a con­stant con­fir­ma­tion of the good results that we get from every har­vest, and these awards are part of what keeps our cus­tomers trust­ing in our work year after year.”

Marchetti said that the world knows that Brazilian olive oil pro­duc­tion is very new and through win­ning awards at inter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tions, pro­duc­ers such as him­self can show the world that their coun­try is rapidly mov­ing in the right direc­tion.

We believe that we are only fol­low­ing the best rec­om­men­da­tions for mak­ing the best extra vir­gin olive oil pos­si­ble,” he said. The olive oil world knows that here in Brazil we are just at the begin­ning, so we still have a lot to learn, and that is the same thought we have had since we started nine years ago.”

We are not in this busi­ness to do what the oth­ers who have come before us have done, but to do some­thing dif­fer­ent,” Marchetti added. That is only pos­si­ble because we care about deliv­er­ing the fresh­est olive oil pos­si­ble to our cus­tomers, and that is basi­cally what makes our extra vir­gin olive oils dif­fer­ent from many oth­ers.”


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