The International Olive Council (IOC) is an international organisation made up of 17 Members (comprising 44 countries in all) accounting for 98% of world olive oil production and 97% of world exports. The member countries have assigned several tasks to the Organisation, including the definition of the different categories of olive oil with the aim of standardising their international trade, and the generic promotion of olive products. To fulfil this remit, in the year 2000 the IOC launched an international competition which it called the Mario Solinas Quality Award as a tribute to one of the driving forces behind the sensory analysis of virgin olive oil. The object of the Award is to promote excellence in extra virgin olive oils by showcasing those with the best organoleptic characteristics.
Nowadays a plethora of competitions, both public and private, pursue this same objective, but some are based on rules that do not offer guarantees that entries are representative of real commercial production or that they are evaluated by recognised sensory analysis professionals. This is more likely to create confusion than to generate real interest among distributors and producers, and even consumers in general.
Faced with this proliferation of quality competitions, the IOC plans to offer its patronage provided that a number of minimal conditions are met, particularly concerning entry representativity and taster skills, or to publish recommendations free for anyone to use. This step is modelled on what is done by another international organisation, the International Organisation for Vine and Wine, which has similar objectives in terms of product standardisation and promotion. The idea is to provide reliable tools for distributors and consumers who choose to buy award-winning oils and at the same time to help create stronger international visibility for winners.
By doing so, the IOC aims to increase familiarity with quality extra virgin olive oils and encourage their production and consumption, as well as to highlight the characteristics of the olive oils from different countries, improve the technical and scientific expertise of producers and help expand olive oil culture.
After inviting tasting panels to comment on this draft patronage scheme which can be viewed at RULES FOR IOC PATRONAGE OF QUALITY COMPETITIONS, the IOC now seeks feedback from the institutions that organise extra virgin olive oil competitions and competition entrants. Comments are invited in writing by midday on 8 June (Madrid time) and should be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Any feedback will be passed on to the representatives of the IOC Advisory Committee on Olive Oil and Table Olives who will be meeting in Milan on 12 June 2015, coinciding with EXPO MILAN, and then to the IOC Council of Members the week after.
We hope the draft makes enjoyable reading and look forward to receiving your comments.
IOC Executive Director