May we talk about the massification of oil contests?
As producers we understand the importance of quality and excellence being recognized and contests can be a reflection of dedicated work, but currently we find ourselves with a proliferation in the number of contests.
To give examples, we could talk about 50 international competitions and about forty national competitions.
To get an idea, although there are quite a few missing, here are some publications that they compile:
International prize competitions: https://www.mercacei.com/seccion/131/Premios-Internacionales/ and National prize competitions: https://www.mercacei.com/seccion/90/Premios-Nacionales/)
It is the job of each producer to shorten the list of which contests to take their EVOO to, but behind this growth, we also believe that we should talk about saturation and, in many cases, a lack of professional rigor.
We are talking about shortcomings as serious as not knowing who makes up the jury that will award the prizes, whether or not they are professionals in the oil sector, in many cases we find juries made up of kitchen professionals, or entertainment professionals but who do not have nor have they received any previous training in oils.
We also miss seriousness in matters as important as traceability: in many cases there is no monitoring of the process, nor the certainty of whether that oil is the same as that which is marketed.
In short, we miss a lot of transparency.
As small producers of organic oil, we cannot afford to sign up for a large number of competitions.
Each contest has a cost, and if some time ago the price for each oil presented ranged between €50 and €100, now we are talking about €200 for registration, in many cases, especially new ones.
We understand it as a perfectly valid strategy to allocate budget items to contests, since they help maintain prestige and, surely, they also help in marketing, although we do not want to become slaves to a system that forces us to win prizes annually to guarantee the quality of our product.
This oversaturated system also leads us to try to create oils that are increasingly pronounced, that stand out in competitions, but that in many cases are not oils that the final consumer is looking for or asks for.
So, are we talking about creating oils exclusively for competitions?
Allocate time, energy, machinery… to some oils that, many times, do not end up reaching the consumer?
And so… is it simply becoming a way of doing business?
To us it seems like an oligarchy (pun intended!) only accessible to a few.
We think that it is necessary to rethink it, restructure it, find a way to find a place that is worthy… and perhaps opening this debate would be a first step?