Italy won the most Best in Class Olive Oil awards, followed by Spain and Australia

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Where Artisans Meet the Market

What’s at stake for producers in the competition is not only recognition, but ultimately the bottom line, and possibly being picked up by a distributor, which is tough in a market that is largely dominated by multinationals.

Cord said, “I get a lot of people who say, this changed my business, this got me into this place or that place.” He said Fairway Market, as well major distributors such as KeHE, use the competition’s list of winners as a shortlist.

Fairway, a sponsor of the competition, now carries 18 of last year’s winners, all small producers.

Steven Jenkins, Fairway’s master buyer, said, “The whole purpose of this, is to find a market for all these tiny producers who are competing against these behemoths that are ruthless.”

Mass production sacrifices quality, he added.

“Everything is refined. Everything is not as good as it could be. So events like this are to forestall the eventuality in our lifetime that everything is going to taste the same. You won’t be able to taste the difference between olive oil and butter, between one cheese and another, between one animal’s flesh and another. … That’s sad and that takes all the beauty out of everything. So we’re here to throw a wrench in the works of the world, to slow things down and we’re committed to it,” Jenkins said.

Italy won the most Best in Class Olive Oil awards, followed by Spain and Australia, 4.6 out of 10 based on 198 ratings

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