About the Awards
Australian International Olive Awards, promoting and celebrating quality.
The Australian International Olive Awards (AIOA) is one of the newest and most comprehensive olive oil and table olive competitions in the world. Its aim is to professionally judge extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), flavoured olive oils and table olives from around the globe, uncover those with the highest quality and flavour and then award them medals and trophies in recognition of excellence.
This competition is a national industry organisation-owned event. It is run by the industry for the industry. Its purpose is simply to promote and celebrate quality extra virgin olive oil, flavoured olive oil and table olive production, and to nurture growers and producers to improve and further develop that quality.
This attention to detail during judging enables the provision of comprehensive quality feedback for EVERY entry, providing producers with the opportunity to learn from their results and refine or improve their practices in future production.
The inaugural Australian International Olive Awards took place in Adelaide in 2017. This competition was the creation of the Australian Olive Association Ltd (AOA), Australia’s peak olive industry body, and replaced the long standing Australian National Olive Competition (the oldest, largest and most prestigious olive competition in Australia), which would have been in its 21st year.
The Australian International Olive Awards provide an amazing opportunity for both the Australian olive industry and also for entrants. The competition is promoted widely across media and commercial channels, significantly enhancing both the prestige and commercial benefits of the awards to entrants, while also showcasing to the rest of the world our unique Australian oil styles. It is a great chance to see how those styles stack up against the best from the rest of the world.
The competition convenor places a strong focus on ensuring broad-ranging judging expertise. It draws together an international judging panel of more than 30 well-credentialed olive experts from across the globe and Australia. Together they form an overall judging panel of the highest calibre, offering a wealth of global olive competition experience and knowledge which then allows for objective judging panels. These diverse panels ensure a thoughtful, non-biased judging process based purely on merit.
Every entry is treated fairly and with respect, with the judging panels given adequate time to assess each entry’s aroma and organoleptic characteristics. Medals are then awarded on those individual merits, rather than by comparison. The judges’ assessments are used to provide comprehensive tasting note feedback for all entries which can be used for future improvement and promotion.
Additional intensive refresher training is undertaken by all judges to align palates and benchmark product styles. This is an integral part of the competition framework, ensuring the highest level of quality and consistency across all classes and the judging panel.
The move to a global competition reflects the increasing recognition of Australia’s high quality extra virgin olive oils and table olives across the globe.
The decision to elevate the status of the AOA annual olive competition to an international event provides an unprecedented opportunity for peer review. The Awards also enhance the existing quality reputation of our Australian producers and provide the opportunity for global benchmarking.
Welcoming the world’s best oils to be judged here also allows international exhibitors to have their oils and table olives benchmarked against Australian oils – some of which have led the field at international competitions in recent years.
The AIOA is open to olive producers from both the northern and southern hemisphere. Separate Best Northern Hemisphere and Best Southern Hemisphere awards honour the different harvest times, however all entries compete for the coveted Best EVOO of Show and Best Table Olives of Show awards.
Now in its fourth year with international status, the competition provides the opportunity for producers to benchmark their products against both Australian and international peers – and to showcase their winning oils and table olives to the world.
Official judging takes place around the globe in September 2020. This year’s strong judging panel features both highly trained national judges and internationally-renowned overseas judges from Italy, Spain, Tunisia, South America, New Zealand and China. A number of associate judges will be in training this year to better their judging skills and experience.
This year’s competition has three main sections , Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Flavoured Olive Oil and Table Olives.
Extra virgin olive oil classes include ‘Mild’, ‘Medium’ and ‘Robust’, ‘Non-packaged’, and various ‘Varietal’ categories. The flavoured olive oil classes focus on ‘Infused/Flavoured’ and ‘Agrumato’ style olive oils.
Table Olive classes include ‘Varietals’, ‘Wild’ and various ‘Flavoured’ categories. All table olive exhibits will undergo physico-chemical and microbiological testing. This requirement provides a significant benefit for table olive producers, as the testing is carried out as part of the AIOA entry process. The cost is included in the entry fee and the testing results will be provided with judging results and feedback.
Table olive competition entries are NOT restricted to the current year of production. Well processed table olives will last several years and 2020 exhibits may include 2018-20 product.
The AIOA will be value-adding competition entry by providing comprehensive tasting notes, which producers can then use for training and marketing. They can also use them to refine their processes and improve their products, providing future benefits for both the producers and overall industry quality.
Major award categories include Best EVOO, Flavoured Olive Oil and Table Olives of Show, Best Australian Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Table Olives, Champions of each class will also be allocated and celebrated. This year we will also be celebrating and presenting a Best in Show award for the Best Small Producer as well as Reserve Champion ribbons for the winners that are come runner up to the Champion awards.
Competition in 2019 was strong with over 91% of entries being awarded medals including 32 gold, 76 silver and 37 bronze medals. EVOO and flavoured oil entries were up on last year’s numbers. Entries came from Australia, Spain, Greece and Argentina.
All extra virgin olive oils were tasted depending on their level of polyphenols (delicate/mild to robust). They were not judged by class. This allows for each style of oil to be judged fairly and without undesirable influence from more robust oils tasted prior.
This year oils were made from one or more of 28 varieties. These varieties have their origins in Spain, Italy, France, Greece, Israel and Australia.
In the Flavoured Oil category oils were judged in order from more lighter flavours of citrus and herb to the stronger characters of garlic, truffle and chilli. It was excellent to see an increase in the number of different flavours in this category. Previous entries have focused on traditional citrus and herbal flavourings, however this year there was greater variety including ginger, lemongrass, truffle, garum masala, wild lime, lemon myrtle.
The Table Olive Competition also saw an increase in entries and overall quality. There were entries in a good cross section of classes with standouts in the ‘Dried Olive’ and ‘Stuffed Olive’ classes. Judges were pleased with the continued high quality of entries and very much enjoyed judging this year’s competition.
Competition in 2018 was intense with a record of over 96% of entries being awarded medals. Entries came from Australia, China, Italy, New Zealand and Spain. The increase in gold medals and the large number of silver medals highlights a stronger focus on oil quality. All extra virgin olive oils were judged depending on their level of polyphenols. Oils were tasted from delicate to robust. They were not judged by class. This allows for each style of oil to be judged fairly and without negative influence from more robust oils.
In the Flavoured Oil category oils were judged in order from more lighter flavours of citrus and herb to the stronger characters of garlic and chilli. It was excellent to see an increase in the percentage of gold medals awarded in this category. The gold medal oils were fresh, intense, and true to flavour with a lingering length.
The Table Olive Competition also saw an increase in international entries and overall quality. Both judges and stewards were excited with the overall standard and variety of table olive entries in 2018.
Competition in 2017 was strong with a record of over 87% of entries being awarded medals. Entries came from Australia, Argentina, Chile, China, New Zealand and North America. Significantly, a new benchmark of a high scoring silver medal was set, where in the past it was a bronze medal score. It’s proof that the Australian industry is continually lifting its game and striving for excellence, with the competition providing a great reward for those efforts.
This positive quality drive was also found In the Table Olive Competition, with all entries achieving medals. Judges and stewards were impressed with the overall standard of quality in 2017.
Promotion, promotion, promotion!
Knowing that success at competitions – particularly one as prestigious as the AIOA – has significant benefits in terms of sales and marketing, the AOA has a communications plan focussed on promoting all medal and award winners.
Commencing on announcement of the results, promotion of winners will start with the delivery of medal certificates and option to purchase medal decals to use on packaging for promotion.
Promotion via peer recognition will take place at the AIOA Presentation Dinner and broad-ranging media dissemination to local, state, national and international outlets, online and print-based, with particular emphasis on food and lifestyle communicators.
Key winners will be celebrated at a national food influencers and media event in Sydney in October, and winning entries will be showcased throughout the coming year at Australian and international tastings, consumer tastings and training events, and also across the Olivegrower communications platform through the Friday Olive Extracts e-newsletter and feature articles in the Olivegrower & Processor industry journal.
Big picture benefits
The commercial benefits of winning are well worth the entry fee but, as the industry’s national competition, taking part has even greater benefits in the long run.
The competition is working assertively towards becoming one of the top international olive competitions in the world by 2022, and the status which goes with winning an AIOA award will continue to grow.
The emphasis on improvement also means that by supporting the competition you are supporting the Australian Olive Industry and helping to lift the quality of olive products available in the marketplace.
As a winner, you’ll help spread awareness of the world’s excellent olive products both in Australia and on the world stage.
Entry costs have been kept at 2017 prices, and once again AOA members receive a considerable discount on all entries.
Full details and entry forms are available on this website.
2020 KEY DATES
International Entries Open: Monday 15th June 2020
Australian Entries Open: Monday 1st July 2020
Closing Date for all entries: Friday 4th September 2020
Winners announced: Exhibitors will be emailed with their results on the 5th October 2020.
Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, there will be no Gala Awards Presentation Dinner for 2020. Major award and medal winners will be celebrated in the 2020 edition of the Results Booklet, on the AOA’s Olivegrower & processor publication and various other media