A simple question with a complex answer, since any of us will say that the best olive oil in the world is theirs, that of their town or that of their country. And it is that the attribute “best” is very subjective since it is a comparative adjective whose result depends precisely on what is compared: products, origins, packaging, and emotions.
As consumers, each of us has a different response, based on our knowledge of the product and many other factors such as experience, purchasing power, geographical origin, etc. What if we move the question to expert tasters from different countries? The war is served, they do not agree either. For example, in the US most people immediately associate the best olive oil with countries like Italy or Greece, and they have not even heard of Spain in this field.
In fact, some time ago a well-known television program, the Investigation Team, issued a quite controversial report titled precisely « The oil war«. A one-hour slot in prime time, with which very interesting data, controversial issues, and scandals related to the world of olive oil, hitherto unknown by most consumers, were brought to the table. From how we undersell our green gold to Italy so that they sell it as the best olives in NYC, to how we buy oil from Morocco produced in deplorable conditions that we allegedly later sell in our own country.
Other murky matters were also uncovered, such as the daily fraud in olive oil that we find in many supermarkets and restaurants, taking samples, and analyzing them incompetent laboratories. For all this, we continue to be the slaves of the best olive oil in the world.
Which country produces the best olive oil in the world?
For us, without a doubt, the best olive oil in the world is produced in Spain, although it is true that this resounding statement will be very debatable for many others. Surely in Italy, Australia, the United States, Greece, Portugal, and even South Africa, many producers and experts in the field will not have the same opinion.
In fact, if we stick to international competitions such as the renowned NYIOOC that is held in New York, and to which more than 1,000 extra virgin olive oils are presented, the ranking of the best olive oils in the world, the so-called « BEST IN CLASS», is dominated mainly by Italian oils, followed at a distance by Spanish, North American, Greek, Croatian, Portuguese, Australian
In this type of contest, many aspects are valued that escape us as consumers, and that are not always objective or have to do with the qualities of the product. If not, why doesn’t the same winner come out of all the contests? If one is the best olive oil in the world, it would have to be the best valued in all the contests, right? Well no, it doesn’t work like that…
In another renowned international competition, this time held in Italy and championed by the prestigious Flos Olei guide (the Parker guide to oils), the results are different. In addition, there is another well-known international ranking where the best olive oil in the world is crowned, the World’s Best Olive Oils, and it has nothing to do with the previous ones.
And that in this one, a sophisticated scoring algorithm is applied that tries to reflect the ratings obtained in the most important local contests in nine different countries. And it is a complicated task, in which it is difficult to satisfy all the brands and actors that participate, and where politics also plays an important role.
What is clear is that despite the fact that Italy does not produce even a quarter of the oil that Spain produces, its marketing and commercial machinery is still much more powerful, both in these contests and in the market. And that is to his credit