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Group to get the good oil on olives
11/11/2000 8:00 AM
Western Australia’s small, but emerging, olive oil industry is building up international contacts and know-how.
A delegation from the local olive industry leaves today on a two-week study tour of key olive growing areas in Spain and Italy and to attend a major international industry forum.
Organised jointly by the Department of Commerce and Trade, the State Government’s European Office and Agriculture Western Australia, the tour is also a product of the WA Government’s formal agreement with Tuscany to develop commercial, trade and cultural links.
The party will tour some of the most successful large and small-scale olive groves and processing mills in Spain and Italy, visit processing equipment manufacturers and see some of the latest harvesting and processing technologies at work. It will also attend the prestigious International Olive Oil Council conference in Spain next week.
Commerce and Trade Minister Hendy Cowan said world olive oil consumption had been increasing rapidly, providing new and exciting national and international market opportunities.
“In Australia, olive oil has taken off so dramatically that we now have the highest per capita consumption outside the Mediterranean, yet virtually all of that product is imported,” Mr Cowan said.
“Escalating demand is also occurring in a number of other countries, which can be met by ‘new world’ groves in Australia and other southern hemisphere countries.
“There is every opportunity for the WA industry to help meet some of that demand when it swings into production in the next few years.”
Mr Cowan said trees planted so far in WA equated to around 3,000ha, with at least another 1,000ha due to be planted in the next year.
“Olive trees take about seven years to reach full production, but at least 1,000ha in WA will commence bearing significant fruit over the next few years,” he said.
“It is essential that the industry begins to position itself now to capitalise on market opportunities. A major focus of this tour is to gain first hand knowledge on key issues such as pricing mechanisms, access to world markets, European subsidies, processing technologies, olive varieties and quality requirements.
“This is an exciting new industry for WA, but it will need careful marketing and will have to be very efficient and price competitive in order to capture the potential market opportunities.
“The study tour, which is being led by the Agent-General, Hon Clive Griffiths, will be very beneficial in ensuring this can occur.”
The tour includes representatives from a number of small and large WA olive projects, consultants and machinery representatives.
Peter Jackson (Minister’s office) 9222-9595
David Brewtnall (Dept Commerce and Trade) 9327-5666