Cape Town hosts world’s biggest olive oil competition
This time of the year is competition time for the olive industry. The results of the2015 SA Olive Awards were announced last week during an awards dinner held at Ashanti Estate in Paarl.
A total of 89 local olive oils received medals, a tribute to the high level of quality of South African olive oil. The top 10 scoring oils in the SA Olive competition will automatically be nominated for the Absa Top 5. The top 5 winners will be announced in October.
This is a special year for the South African olive industry. Apart from these annual competitions, Cape Town is hosting Sol d’ Oro, one of the biggest olive oil competitions in the world. It is the Southern Hemisphere leg of the competition which travels from country to country each year. It is the first time South Africa is hosting the competition and it will probably be a few years before it returns.
It is very expensive for South African producers to enter international competitions generally. Apart from the sizable entry fees per oil entered, the producer has to pay to have their oil couriered to the competition. Producers in the Southern Hemisphere are also disadvantaged as the competitions are normally held in February to suit the Northern Hemisphere producers which would have recently completed their harvest.
Olive oil is at its best when it is fresh. Producers in the Southern Hemisphere would generally have to submit oil from last year which will not be as fresh as the Northern Hemisphere oils. Additionally, if medals are awarded they apply to the previous harvest while the producer is actually trying to sell the new harvest!
For these reason Sol ‘d Oro which takes place in February in Verona, Italy, has started a separate leg of the competition for the Southern Hemisphere. Having it hosted in Cape Town means that small producers which could never afford to send their oil to another country can enter at minimal expense.
Two local olive oil tasters have been invited to join the judging panel which will be an excellent opportunity for them to broaden their experience of competition tasting and also become familiar with other oils from producing countries in the Southern Hemisphere such as Australia, Peru, Uruguay and New Zealand.
We wish our local producers best of luck and look forward to seeing how they perform in the competition. The results should be revealed later this week. The winners will be invited to exhibit at the Sol & Agrifood Expo in Verona in April. The event attracts around 64,000 visitors and will be a wonderful opportunity to showcase our incredible South African olive oils.
See the full list of 2015 SA Olive Award winners here.
Read more about the Sol d’ Oro judging panel here.