The 'World's Best Olive Oils' ranking modifies and hardens its criteria from this edition

The "World's Best Olive Oils" ranking modifies and hardens its criteria from this edition

As Mercacei announced one year ago, the prestigious "World's Best Olive Oils" ranking, created in 2012 by the German taster expert Heiko Schmidt, based on the results of the main extra virgin olive oil international competitions in both hemispheres -taking as reference the Mario Solinas Prize of the International Olive Council-, has completely modified the punctuation form of the individual competitions from this edition.

In previous editions, between 1 and 4 extra points were granted to meet certain criteria established in the standards of the Mario Solinas Quality Award (MSQA), but since the 2017/18 campaign the organization of the ranking requests to the contests a series of minimum criteria -based also in the guidelines of the MSQA- to be able to continue being part of it, and so "belong in the Champions League of the most strict contests in the world," says its promoter. Some criteria that fail to provide extra points and become mandatory from now on.

According to Schmidt, the most important criterion for a contest to be recognized as one of the strictest in the world is the guarantee of the authenticity of the samples sent to it. "The only way to guarantee 100% authenticity is that the notary or an equivalent figure collects the samples; that is why we have decided to award 10 extra points to the only two competitions that meet this criterion, Mario Solinas and the Ovibeja contest in Portugal. In this sense, the minimum requirement is to request all participants a self-certification that demonstrates the authenticity of the samples delivered,"he highlights.

Another important criterion -which also contributes to increasing the opportunities of small producers compared to the large groups of the sector- is that of admitting only one sample per producer/group of companies in each of the categories of the contest, limited to four (mature, light green, medium green and intense green), conventional/organic production, national/international and monovarietal/coupage. The application of this criterion allows the contest to obtain another 10 extra points.

Minimum criteria
From this edition, the absolute minimum criteria to which all competitions that wish to be part of the "World's Best Olive Oils" ranking must submit are the following:

- Producers have to sign at least a self-certification of sample authenticity including: name of producing mill, tank/batch number, tank/batch size; the competition reserves the right to cross check the winning olive oils

- Olive oils presented to a competition need to be from a homogeneous lot of at least 500/2000 l. (separation of small (<5000 l.) and larger producers >5000 l., total production); small and larger producers need to be evaluated separately by the competition when differentiating between lot sizes

- Producers need to present a chemical analysis not older than 6 months carried out by a COI/IOC accredited or another official laboratory

- Producers shall present of a sensorial analysis not older than 6 months carried out by a COI/IOC accredited laboratory (optional)

- Competition needs to execute an upfront secret coding of the samples received from the producers, preferably samples to be handed into the competition in anonymous bottles

- The competitions panel needs to be composed exclusively of internationally recognized and trained olive oil experts (minimum 5 judges per table/group, preferably 8)

- Application of COI/IOC standards in evaluation of EVOOs (like codified samples, official tasting glasses etc.)

- Use of COI/IOC(-like) profile sheet in the assessment of EVOOs

- Competition must not have any intention to generate profits through participation fees

- Competition organizers understand that WBOO will accept and compute per category ONLY a first, second, third prize winner plus max. 5 finalists in order, NOT large numbers of Gold, Silver, Bronze Medals (or similar)

Discussions and absences
The introduction of all these modifications -announced directly to those competitions considered to date to be included in the WBOO ranking- has caused "intense discussions with the organizers that have markedly delayed its implementations, because our idea was to conclude this process in the last quarter of 2017 to publish the final list of competitions before the end of the year," admits Heiko Schmidt. "There have even been contests that signed the declaration of compliance with the new rules and then withdrew saying that they had interpreted it differently and did not accept the criterion of authenticity of samples. Some even signed it but later didn't reflected the minimum criteria in their rules, while others have decided not to abandon their debatable practice of granting a large quantity of medal. Finally, and this seems especially unfortunate to me, there are other contests that, after numerous emails, contact attempts and even long previous conversations, have not even had the decency to answer us", explains Schmidt.

However, "the organization of WBOO is open to reincorporate those contests that have been left out in this edition, in the same way that we invite other contests to be part of the ranking, as long as they accept compliance with the criteria demanded to be able to be part of the circuit of the strictest competitions to the quality of extra virgin olive oil," he concludes.

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