The largest and most prestigious olive oil contest, the New York International Olive Oil Competition 2021 has come to an end. And although, this year, the process to crown the world’s best olive oils has been somewhat different due to the Covid-19 restrictions, the results were, nevertheless, eagerly awaited.
This year, according to the NYIOOC’s official data, 790 brands earned the coveted Gold and Silver Awards for outstanding quality, accounting for an overall success rate of 68%. These brands now comprise an elite list of the world’s finest extra virgin olive oils, an accolade producers say gives added value.
165 entries – 45 gold awards
Despite the myriad problems created mostly by the pandemic, Greek olive oil producers were keen to participate in the international competition. In fact, the NYIOOC 2021 recorded 165 entries of Greek companies, while the results were more than promising: this year’s tally was 45 Gold and 54 Silver Awards (a total of 99 extra virgin olive oils) and an impressive 60% success rate, especially when compared with the 70 winners of 2020 (56% success rate), the 35 winners in 2019 (32% success rate) or the 55 winners in the 2018 iteration of the competition (35% success rate).
Visibility and opportunities
Ioannis Bardis, COO at Sparta Gourmet, one of the winners, says that exports are the main reason to compete in the NYIOOC. “The decision to participate in this major competition has to do with the fact that Sparta Gourmet is an export-oriented company with almost 80% of its sales exported to the US.”
“At the same time, as a company based in Sparta, Greece, with a vertical unit for the pressing, production and standardization of extra virgin olive oil, this award fills us with great optimism and strength for the future. It looks like our efforts to invest in technology and know-how that allows both short time and low temperature of olive maceration, combined with the superior quality characteristics of the Laconian olives,are starting to bear fruit,” he adds.
For many Greek producers, the NYIOOC –together with other international events– are a way to promote new flavors, lesser-known varieties, and unique blends.
“We are very excited to introduce to consumers the Thiako –otherwise known as Anoisana– variety. It is the first time that this variety, which comes from the islands of Ithaca and Kefalonia, has been awarded internationally. The trees were planted 40 years ago by Dr Kavvadia himself, as if he knew…”, explains Apostolos Poursanidis, producer of the awarded Dr Kavvadia EVOO from Corfu. Ioannis Kampouris, Founder and Managing Director at E-LA-WON, a brand that won two Silver Awards, asserts that “It is not enough to say that you have a very good olive oil, you have to prove it, as well. And international competitions are a great way to do that. Our olive oils have so far collected at total of 82 quality awards in international competitions, one of which is the NYIOOC. Naturally, the fact fills us with enthusiasm but also with the responsibility to continue producing top-tier olive oil. It is also worth noting that winning such prestigious competitions not only benefits the company, but also offers more visibility as well as the chance to penetrate international markets”.
Regarding the opportunities presented by the competition, Alexandros Voukoureslis, owner of the Olive Mill Alexandros Voukoureslis, states that “We have always known that the olive oil of our region is special. We are a 100% export company, and these competitions certainly help us increase visibility, but the truth is that our customers were the ones that pushed us in the first place to participate.”
“These awards are a confirmation of our efforts and a recognition of our products and our work. It is a kind of vindication: It’s no small feat to send 2 products and have them both get Gold Awards!” he adds.
See the full list of this year’s winners.
Read more about EVOO.