Ogün Akkaya / DUVAR
Olive oils from seven different countries including Italy, Greece and Portugal will compete in the "Anatolian International Olive Oil Competition" that will be held in western Balıkesir province between May 29 and June 1.
Only natural extra virgin olive oils will be allowed to enter the competition, which will have three categories: Organic, monovarietal, spiced and blend.
The competition has received more than 200 submissions, and is the first international event held in Turkey that will allow olive oils to compete, Director Birsen Can Pehlivan said, adding that the event aims to draw attention to the different kinds of olive oil produced in Turkey.
Olive oil production has developed technologically in the past decade, Pehlivan said, noting that Turkish olive oils used to be considered less than ideal internationally until recently.
"People would joke that bad olive oils must be Turkish," Pehlivan noted. "But really, you can create the best olive oil anywhere that olives grow, regardless of location."
The Turkish industry only submitted 16 olive oil samples to international competitions in 2016, the director said, but this number jumped to 83 in 2021; Turkish companies also collected 58 medals in a Japanese competition in 2020.
"The world olive oil industry is guided by the results of these competitions," Pehlivan said, adding that the products that receive rankings are prioritized in advertisement opportunities.
Olive oils will be evaluated based on their smell, taste and chemical composition by experts dubbed "oleolog"s, whose rankings will then be approved by international olive oil notaries.
The taste tests will be conducted in special blue cups assigned by the International Olive Oil Council, and the competing olive oils will be anonymous.