This year I was invited again to be a member of the judging panel for the new edition of the Japan Olive Oil Prize. This is an olive oil competition which takes place annually in Tokyo. It is organized by the Italian Chamber of Commerce in the city.
This judging panel is one of the strictest that I participate in, and its tasting is the most exhaustive and comprehensive. The competition is strictly for EVOO of great quality. Only 120 entries were submitted this year. The vast majority were from small to medium producers from Italy, who use cutting edge technology to produce their olive oils. As Marzia Migliorini, the panel leader, said in front of journalists and members of the Japanese industry during the awards ceremony: “These olive oils are not only made by producers of quality olive oil, they’re made with technology of the highest quality”. This technology consists mostly of new generation crushers, instead of the traditional hammer-mills. They use vertical or hermetic maloxors that often use a vacuum system and decanters that work without a final separator. They also filter the olive oil as soon as possible once it has left the decanter. On a side note, the discussion on filtration and its benefits has just started in California. Only Pacific Sun Farms and a couple of companies, or around 2% of the market use filtration. However, it is also worth noting that all the winners and awarded olive oils were filtered.