NEWS RELEASE 5 September, 2017
Olive farmers explore soils for oils
**Olive growers in two states are anticipating gains from a new provenance-branding initiative supported by the Australian Government.
More than 100 members of the Queensland Olive Council and Olives South Australia will work with South Australian researchers to investigate a product designation of origin (PDO) system for Australian extra-virgin olive oils, assisted by $66,909 from the national Farm Co-operatives and Collaboration pilot program, known as Farming Together.
Already the group has commissioned research to sample olives to create regional palate profiles.
“Provenance underpins food authenticity and puts consumers and growers together. It shows how flavour, taste and health benefits relate to consumers’ need,” said Amanda Bailey, CEO of the Queensland Olive Council.
“We estimate 85% of Australian extra-virgin olive oils are made from olives grown in a single grove that has been maintained by the owner who cares.”
The success of this pilot study involving South Australian and Queensland olive growers could lead to a national appellation scheme which would support the marketability of Australian extra-virgin olive oil both on the domestic and international stages.
“Regionality and differences in production practice across regions is also likely to extend to differences in their health-giving components such as polyphenols and squalene,” explained Dr Richard Gawel, the scientific collaborator on the project.
“Squalene in particular is becoming a rock-star in the health world, with some Japanese buyers insisting on minimum levels of this rare antioxidant found only in extra virgin olive oil and, surprisingly, shark livers. Pure squalene is also used in exclusive cosmetics and skin formulations. Understanding how regionality affects these components will be valuable to Australian growers.”
Amanda said production is trending upwards in both states, as trees planted up to 16 years ago are now maturing. Growers hope the PDO will help with sales of this increased volume of product.
“And examining the different components of our oils could see premium pricing for some of our products,” she added.
The Farm Co-operative and Collaboration Program is a two-year, $13.8m initiative from the Australian Government designed to help agricultural groups value-add, secure premium pricing, scale-up production, attract capital investment, earn new markets or secure lower input costs.
Program director Lorraine Gordon said: “The Queensland Olive Council/Olives South Australia initiative is a good example of the way the Farm Co-operative and Collaboration Program supports agriculture from the grower upwards. The program is farmer-driven and has attracted unprecedented levels of engagement. In barely 10 months we have had interaction with 16,000 farmers, fishers and foresters across the country and across many commodity groups.”
The Farm Co-operative and Collaboration Program recently launched a free online co-op builder for groups considering forming themselves into these tax-effective structures. The simple, DIY template is available at www.farmingtogether.com.au
The Farm Co-operative and Collaboration Program is being delivered by Southern Cross University on behalf of the Australian Government. It comprises a highly experienced senior team drawn from a wide range of commodity groups from across Australia and is backed by an industry advisory group representing experts from Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and NSW. More? www.farmingtogether.com.au
Queensland – Amanda Bailey 07 4696 9845 or 0403 498 645
South Australia – Dr Richard Gawel 0424 129 703
Sue Webster, Farming Together media 0437 135 581
Photo captions: Dr Richard Gawel
Samples of olive oils
Lorraine Gordon: “A farmer-driven program”.