Past AIOA Competition Overviews

2021 Competition

The Australian International Olive Awards (AIOA), now in its fifth year, is a very successful and omportant national industry organisation-owned event.

Once again, 2021 had many challenges and it has been wonderful to see so many businesses continue to enter. Granted that the 2020 growing season in Australia was so difficult with drought, fires and low yeilds, it was excellent to welcome back entries from producers who could not enter last year.

We had record entry numbers and medals in 2021 and it was great to see so many new organsiations enter the competition. In fact, the ‘Best Extra Virgin Olive Oil of Show Boutique Volume’ was awarded to a first-time entrant to the competition.

As per 2020, remote panel judging took place across the globe. Our world-renowned oil judges in Spain, Italy, New Zealand, Tunisia and China worked tirelessly as did our six panels in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Wagga Wagga.

Feedback from the international panels was again very complimentary on the extra virgin olive oils in this year’s competition and feedback on the flavoured oils and table olives was just as complementary.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition

There were 21 extra virgin entries from international exhibitors and 188 Australian entries.  In this year’s extra virgin olive oil competition 88% of entries were awarded a medal. There were 184 medals awarded in total including 66 gold medals, 74 silver medals and 44 bronze medals.

The average score across all awarded oils was 78.21 points (a strong silver). This year, all oils were judged in order from mild to robust. This was determined by the amount of polyphenols/biophenols each oil contained. This year we saw an increase in the number of mild AND medium oils and a decrease in the number of more robust oils.

This year oils were made from one or more of 41 varieties. These varieties have their origins in Spain, Italy, France, Tunisia, Greece, Libya and Australia. Of the single varietals there was a good cross-section entered, with Frantoio once again being the most often used in the extra virgin olive oil entries followed by Corregiola, Picual, Leccino, Coratina, Koroneiki and Barnea.

The oils range from very mild 100% Leccino oil with a polyphenol level of 50ppm to a very robust Greek Olympia with a polyphenol level of 1155ppm. In 2021 the competition presented its inaugural ‘Highest Phenolic Content EVOO’ award to the gold medal oil with the highest polyphenol count.

Flavoured Olive Oil Competition

There were 37 flavoured olive oils this year from New Zealand, Spain and Australia.  This year we received a number of different and varying flavour profiles. Citrus agrumato was by far the largest class and it was good to see the entry of two yuzu citrus agrumato oils. There were a good number of herb, garlic and chilli oils and also a number of Asian inspired infused oils (curry leaf, ginger and lemongrass and a garum masala oil).  In order to be fair to each entry, all oils were judged in order from lighter flavours of citrus and herb to stronger characters of garlic and chilli. 89% of entries were awarded a medal including 14 gold, 15 silver and 4 bronze medals.

Table Olives Competition

Although there were reduced table olive entries in 2021 compared to past years, it was pleasing to see the quality of the table olives was good and most processors were able to balance the natural olive bitterness with the salt and acid additions.

There were entries in all classes. Prior to judging all table olives exhibits were laboratory tested to ensure they are fit for human consumption. Pleasingly NO problems were found with any of the competition exhibits.  All exhibits were judged using the revised AIOA 100-point scale and judging criteria.

A total of 4 Gold, 9 Silver and 8 Bronze medals were awarded across the AIOA this year and 3 No Medals.

 

2020 Competition

Granted the challenges that the international olive industry had to face in 2020 (COVID-19, drought conditions, bushfires, poor flowering and unusual weather conditions) entries into the 2020 competition were still strong.  It has been extraordinary how many businesses still entered.

Due to COVID restrictions across the globe this year a remote judging format was devised. World-renowned oil judges formed five international panels in Spain, Italy, New Zealand, Tunisia and China and six panels in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Wagga Wagga. Four associate judges in training also took part in judging in Australia and China.

Feedback from the international panels has been very complimentary on the oils in this year’s competition. These judges were suitably impressed by the quality of this year’s oils, a great number of which were Australian.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition

Once again there was a good cross section of EVOO entries from across the globe. There were 130 medals awarded in total including 56 gold, 47 silver and 27 bronze medals.

The increase in gold and silver medals and a decrease in bronze medals highlight the continuing focus on oil quality.  It reinforces our findings that the new benchmark in this competition is now set at medium to high silver where in the past it has been a high bronze. It is fulfilling to see the industry working hard to raise quality and produce more of these higher-class oils.

This year oils were made from one or more of 34 varieties. These varieties have their origins in Spain, Italy, France, Tunisia, Greece, Israel and Australia.  From a medal point of view, over half of the gold medal oils were made with a single cultivar, with the remaining medal winning oils being made from a blend of at least 2 or more cultivars.

In 2020 the competition presented its inaugural Best in Show EVOO award for the Best Small Producer.

Flavoured Olive Oil Competition

Entries into the flavoured oil competition were solid, but slightly less than the 2019 entries.  2020 saw the first international exhibitors entering the flavoured oils competition. Oils from New Zealand, Tunisia, Spain and Australia were entered.

In this year’s flavoured olive oil competition 22 medals were awarded in total including 8 gold, 12 silver and 2 bronze medals.  Once again, we received a number of oils with different and varying flavour profiles as well as an increase in the number of agrumato oils made with non-traditional citrus flavourings (fresh rosemary, garlic, basil, lime, mint and chilli).

It was very difficult to decide on the top ‘Best in Class’ gold medal awards as the top golds had complexity, intensity and purity of flavour, lingering finish and amazing freshness. As a result, two oils were awarded ‘Best Flavoured Olive Oil in Show’.

Table Olives Competition

The competition was open to international exhibitors and in 2020 the organisers were very pleased to receive a record number of entries from across the globe.  Table olive competition entries were NOT restricted to the current year of production.

Entries were made into all of the classes:

  • Class 11: Green Olives
  • Class 12: Medley of Olives
  • Class 13: Olives Turning Colour & Black Olives (other than Kalamata
  • Class 14: Kalamata Olives
  • Class 15: Wild Olives
  • Class 16: Dried Olives
  • Class 17: Pitted and/or Stuffed Olives
  •  Class 18: Speciality Olives (flavoured)

All exhibits were judged using the revised AIOA 100-point scale and judging criteria. This included assessing appearance, aroma, flavour/palate and total olive harmony and complexity. A total of 6 gold, 9 silver and 14 bronze medals were awarded across the 2020 Table Olive competition.

 

2019 Competition

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.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition

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.

Flavoured Olive Oil Competition

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.

Table Olive Competition

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.

 

2018 Competition

Extra Virgin Olive Oil 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.

Flavoured Olive Oil Competition

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.

Table Olive Competition

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.

 

2017 Competition

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.