Olive Oil Award 2020
The dominant topic in recent weeks and days has been - and continues to be - the global corona pandemic. The practical implementation of the Olive Oil Award - Zurich (OOA) in 2020 was not spared from this crisis situation. In mid-March 2020, in the middle of the numerous sensory evaluations for the OOA taking place during this period, all face-to-face events at the ZHAW were prohibited until further notice ... - with the consequence that the Swiss Olive Oil Panel (SOP) was no longer able to meet on site at the ZHAW. From then on, it was generally only allowed to work "contactless", "digital" and "online". But, isn't that a contradiction in terms? Is it really possible to practice sensory evaluation and organize tastings in accordance with the rules ... - without meeting "physically"? Yes, you can! The Swiss Olive Oil Panel has actually been working for years, both in the context of its training courses and for sensory evaluations, on the one hand "in situ" but also very often in a "virtual" way. The latter enabled us to convert all the tastings still to come in connection with the OOA relatively spontaneously to a "contactless digital" version.
What did that mean in concrete terms? Our regulations state that for the verification of the results of the OOA, two sensory assessments (panel tests), plus aroma description and harmony assessment must be carried out in succession. The first evaluation, which was already carried out at the end of February / beginning of March 2020, could still take place within the usual framework, i.e. "in situ" on site in the sensory laboratory of the ZHAW. The second evaluation - after the "lockdown" of the ZHAW laboratories - was then carried out "virtually". For this purpose, the olive oils to be tested were sent by post dispatch to the members of the panel. And thanks to the long-standing integration of so-called home testing stations into the official accreditation (according to ISO 17025) of the ZHAW sensory testing laboratory, it was thus possible to carry out rule-compliant data collection by the SOP in this way as well.
So every crisis offers many challenges, but also new opportunities ... - on this path, which is also very forward-looking for non-pandemic times, we were finally able to assess all 109 participating olive oils by sensory evaluation in the Olive Oil Award - Zurich 2020. 5 olive oils in the "extra virgin" class were awarded gold. Another 14 olive oils were awarded silver and 17 bronze. In addition to representatives from Spain and Italy, olive oils from Portugal, Greece and Croatia also made it into the award categories. And even two EU blends were awarded a bronze prize each due to their positive sensory characteristics.
All details about the "extra virgin" olive oils 2020 can be found in our booklet.
We hope you enjoy browsing and studying ...
Your Olive Oil Award Team