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Northern Hemisphere's Best Extra Virgin Olive Oils Revealed

Farmers, millers and bottlers overcame another unprecedented year of climatic and economic challenges to earn 584 awards at the 2024 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.
NYIOOC
By Daniel Dawson
May. 14, 2024 17:40 UTC

Farmers, millers and bot­tlers from 18 Northern Hemisphere coun­tries com­bined to win 584 awards from 901 entries at the 2024 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.

Producers over­came a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive poor har­vest, marked by cli­matic and eco­nomic chal­lenges, to win 368 Gold Awards and 216 Silver Awards for their extra vir­gin olive oils.

For our com­pany, these awards val­i­date our efforts to pro­duce high-qual­ity olive oils that show­case the unique fla­vors and char­ac­ter­is­tics of Turkish olive vari­eties.- Tuba Yilmaz, owner, Gaia Oliva

According to an Olive Oil Times sur­vey, high pro­duc­tion costs, exces­sive heat, drought, the olive fruit fly, exces­sive rain and labor short­ages were the lead­ing chal­lenges pro­duc­ers faced in the 2023/24 crop year.

Once again, Italian brands led the way, earn­ing 147 awards at the world’s largest olive oil qual­ity com­pe­ti­tion. They were fol­lowed by the United States (95), Spain (82), Croatia (80) and Greece (56) as the most suc­cess­ful coun­tries in the com­pe­ti­tion.

See Also:2024 NYIOOC Coverage

While the usual sus­pects dom­i­nated results, pro­duc­ers from lesser-known coun­tries also tri­umphed, includ­ing farm­ers and millers from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, China, Japan and Jordan.

Judging for extra vir­gin olive oil pro­duc­ers from the Southern Hemisphere will begin in the autumn.

Irrespective of their coun­try of ori­gin, pro­duc­ers agreed that receiv­ing recog­ni­tion from the NYIOOC rewarded their efforts dur­ing a dif­fi­cult har­vest and improved their prospects of enter­ing new mar­kets.

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NYIOOC awards help producers of all sizes do business in new markets. (Photo: Fattoria San Michele a Torri)

We are very proud to have won in New York, a great city and mar­ket with great peo­ple,” said Leonardo Francalanci, the chief exec­u­tive of Tuscany-based Fattoria San Michele a Torri, which won a Gold Award for a medium-inten­sity Frantoio.

Despite high sum­mer tem­per­a­tures fol­low­ing a poor fruit set in the spring, the com­pany pro­duced 30,000 liters of extra vir­gin olive oil in the 2023/24 crop year with plans to export a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion. We believe this award will help us bet­ter estab­lish our­selves inter­na­tion­ally,” Francalanci said.

Along with improv­ing brand posi­tion in the United States, pro­duc­ers from lesser-known olive oil-pro­duc­ing areas said the World Competition awards help pro­mote the pro­file of their entire regions.

“[Winning a Silver Award] is a recog­ni­tion of a job well done,” said Fatima Elizalde, the mar­ket­ing man­ager of Bodega Nekeas, located in the north­ern Spanish region of Navarre.

This award improves the posi­tion­ing of Navarre as an area where top-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil is pro­duced,” she added.

Producers have reported that win­ning at the NYIOOC pro­vides com­mer­cial ben­e­fits, includ­ing improv­ing a brand’s stand­ing in the eyes of prospec­tive and exist­ing cus­tomers.

However, many see the awards as more than a sales pitch. The con­clu­sions of the NYIOOC analy­sis team are viewed as an endorse­ment of more expen­sive organic prac­tices.

According to Olive Oil Times World Ranking data, organic brands earned 205 awards from a record-high 329 entries.

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The producers behind Marciano Estate harvest the local Mission variety along with five Italian and three Spanish varieties, all grown organically. (Photo: Marciano Estate)

Winning these awards gives us more con­fi­dence that we are doing the right thing,” said Milagros Castro, the olive con­sul­tant for California-based Marciano Estate.

The Napa Valley pro­ducer earned a pair of Gold Awards for a medium Italian blend and medium Arbequina, har­vested from its cer­ti­fied organic grove in St Helena.

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Among its organic prac­tices, Marciano Estate grazes sheep among the trees to remove weeds and pro­vide nat­ural fer­til­izer.

Along with organic entries, Olive Oil Times World Ranking data indi­cates that mono­va­ri­etal oils are gain­ing momen­tum.

Seventy-one per­cent of mono­va­ri­etal NYIOOC entries were awarded in 2024, com­pared to 57 per­cent of blends. Between 2016 and 2022, there was far more par­ity between the suc­cess of sin­gle-vari­etal oils and those com­bin­ing two or more cul­ti­vars.

While the most com­mon olive vari­eties con­tinue to dom­i­nate as the most awarded – includ­ing Picual, Koroneiki, Frantoio and Arbequina – pro­duc­ers world­wide said inter­na­tional recog­ni­tion encour­ages them to embrace local cul­ti­vars.

In Turkey, award-win­ning pro­duc­ers sought to high­light the country’s numer­ous endemic vari­eties. Twenty-four of the 29 win­ning brands were crafted with native olive vari­eties.

Winning two Gold Awards at the 2024 NYIOOC is truly an honor for us and a tes­ta­ment to our team’s ded­i­ca­tion and hard work,” said Tuba Yilmaz, the owner of Gaia Oliva.

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Tuba Yilmaz views the NYIOOC as an excellent way to showcase native Turkish olive varieties to the world. (Photo: Gaia Oliva)

For our com­pany, these awards val­i­date our efforts to pro­duce high-qual­ity olive oils that show­case the unique fla­vors and char­ac­ter­is­tics of Turkish olive vari­eties,” she added.

Along with local vari­eties, World Competition awards high­light the role of olive grow­ers as cus­to­di­ans of tra­di­tional land­scapes and olive bio­di­ver­sity.

Situated in the foothills of California’s Sierra Nevada, the pro­duc­ers behind Olivaia’s OLA cel­e­brated win­ning two Gold Awards for blends that incor­po­rate wild olives har­vested from cen­te­nar­ian trees.

Not only were we thrilled about the awards, but we felt that the value we saw in our trees was val­i­dated,” co-owner Giulio Zavolta said. The trees had proven their value as the source of a unique oil, as the con­veyor of the region’s rich her­itage and as a cul­tural land­mark.”

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First-time winners see winning NYIOOC awards as confirmation that their agronomic and milling practices are working. (Photo: OPG Garmica)

While plenty of pro­duc­ers cel­e­brat­ing their vic­to­ries have pre­vi­ously been awarded at the com­pe­ti­tion, the 2024 edi­tion also saw many first-time win­ners.

This was my first time enter­ing the NYIOOC, and I am very excited and happy,” said Ante Đuderija, the owner of OPG Garmica.

Situated on the island of Hvar off the coast of south­ern Croatia, the pro­ducer said the Gold Award for his medium Levantinka comes after a chal­leng­ing har­vest.

For OPG Garmica, this is just the begin­ning; I hope for con­ti­nu­ity in olive oil qual­ity in the years to come,” Đuderija con­cluded.


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