The Australian Olive Oil industry is making great product. Check out some of these products. The boutique products you can get from the growers themselves or some specialty stores are generally sensational though often damned expensive. Here are the 2004 show results – just released.
The cheap imported European oil in supermarkets is atrocious. This is because the Europeans retain good quality product for their own markets and export poor quality product after it’s been sitting around for months. After all, we’ve been swallowing it for years. Bland at best but frequently rancid. It’s a sad fact that people here have got used to the taste of rancid oil. Get thee to an olive oil tasting!
Olive oil does not last. It’s a fruit juice. It’s perishable. But the industry here have failed to explain that to the market so far. There are reasons why they haven’t done this – no retailer wants to be stuck with oil that is past its best-by date. But the producers really need to educate the domestic market quickly if they’re going to convince people to spend $10 a litre on olive oil – canola oil (shudder) sells for $2.
Like wines, olive oils should carry a vintage. More than a 12 months old it should come off the shelf. All public relations and marketing activity should be constructed around the release date of the fresh oils. The Australian Olive Association could coordinate a national education campaign on television announcing the introduction of vintages.
The premise for the enormous capital raisings that have gone on in Australia fuelling huge plantings of olives (yep, the poor old investors got taken again) was that Australia could supply fresh olives into the European market, where they appreciate the value of fresh oil, in their off season. But the extensive plantings mean that a lot of product needs to be sold domestically as well.
The industry’s long term future is best served by educating Australians about the fact that unlike processed oils (veg oil and canola), extra virgin olive oil goes off. That way they will undermine the cheap European imports and build awareness of quality. Then it’s a question of selling Australian oils in larger containers so that the consumer doesn’t have to pay $40 a litre for the stuff.