The NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition has announced it will move forward with an innovative plan to judge this year’s entries remotely amid the coronavirus crisis.
Postponing is the easy way out, but it doesn’t consider the producer, who has a limited window of time to market this year’s harvest.
The judging panel for the world’s most important olive oil quality contest, scheduled to take place in early May, consists of tasting professionals from more than one dozen countries, including many of the regions hardest hit by the pandemic.
Curtis Cord, the NYIOOC president, said he began developing the contingency plan with his technical team after travel restrictions went into effect in early March.
“Even while the world faces a terrible crisis, olive oil producers depend on the NYIOOC,” Cord said. “We must fulfill our responsibility to recognize their dedication and hard work, even in these difficult times.”
Cord said he weighed postponing the competition but ultimately decided against it.
“Postponing is the easy way out, but it doesn’t consider the producer, who has a limited window of time to market this year’s harvest,” he said. “There is little point in pushing the awards back into summer or fall when the next harvest will already be upon us.”
Instead, samples of the contest entries will be prepared following a protocol NYIOOC has developed in consultation with health safety and food handling professionals.
Each entry will be transferred to a tamper-evident, dark glass container with zero headspace and blind-coded. They will be packed and shipped in temperature-controlled cases to protect them during transport and preserve their quality for sensory analysis.
Tasting experts around the world will analyze the samples in concert using NYIOOC’s proprietary judging application and an integrated communication tool that allows them to confer with others on the panel, the competition president and the technical team.
Cord said the protocols and the professionalism of his judging experts will ensure accurate results and the administration of the competition at the highest standards, even as the world confronts an unprecedented crisis.
This crisis calls for even greater creative solutions guided by our promise to producers who deserve every possible effort to recognize their excellence.
“We wish it weren’t necessary to do it this way,” Cord said 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.”
Beginning on May 8th, the NYIOOC will unveil the results of the competition in real-time, allowing producers and the public to follow the awards as they unfold.
At the same time, a totally redesigned Best Olive Oils Index will launch featuring a new retail locator that will help everyone find an award-winning oil nearby.
Olive Oil Times writers will be fanning out in every region to report on winning producers in breaking-news articles optimized for sharing and syndication.
This summer, the Best Olive Oils Marketplace will be expanded to Canada and Europe to help producers and distributors get their high-quality olive oils into even more of the kitchens where they deserve to be.
“We were already planning the most inventive competition in our eight years organizing this event,” Cord said. “This crisis calls for even greater creative solutions guided by our promise to producers who deserve every possible effort to recognize their excellence.”
Registration for the 2020 NYIOOC ends at midnight, April 1st. Samples are due May 1st.