By Penelope Barker
Olive Oil Times Contributor | Reporting from Buenos Aires
In just over ten years, co-founders Rob McGavin and Paul Riordan and their team at Boundary Bend Limited have created Australia’s largest olive oil company. “But jeez we’ve had some difficulties,” says Mr McGavin. “It is just tough. And I would say 95 percent of people who go out and plant an olive grove – even if they’re in the industry – really struggle, because it is very, very difficult to make them consistently produce – to get your pollination right, nutrition, water, processing, logistics right – so that you’ve got an excellent quality EVOO out the other side at a competitive price.”
Olive oil expert Dr. Richard Gawel is fulsome in his praise for Boundary Bend’s efforts and significant contributions to the industry as a whole. “They are a truly vertically integrated company – from nursery to marketing,” says Dr. Gawel. “They contribute a significant amount to research knowledge on olive oil, and a lot of their outcomes are publicly available and relevant to producers both within Australia and elsewhere. They have conducted research on a diverse range of topics such as fruit loosening agents, frost damage, mechanical harvesting and processing aids to name just a few and their laboratory has also worked on verifying the validity of new tests that help identify what I consider to be the scourge of the industry: the presence of old oil in blends. Most importantly, through their Cobram Estate brand, they have been instrumental in putting affordable, high quality EVOO on Australian supermarket shelves.”
Dr. Gawel also points out that the company’s technical experts, Leandro Ravetti and Pablo Canamasas, are active in disseminating their results to the industry and contribute their time to other industry issues such as developing modern, relevant standards to help consumers better understand the difference between the olive oil grades.
“From the marketing side,” adds Dr. Gawel, “Boundary Bend have been active in working on creating and promoting two levels of EVOO – a supermarket line and varietal based specialty line, and they have become perhaps the most immediately recognized EVOO brand in Australia. As a company, they have been long time supporters of the Australian Olive Association, both in providing
expertise and supporting research.”
Today, Boundary Bend Limited operates over $AU250 million (USD 254 million) in olive assets and, with 2.5 million olive trees under its control, is the largest owner/manager of olive groves in Australia and one of the largest in the world.
For the past six seasons, BBL has been leading the dynamic and emerging olive oil industry in Australia. The company has been the first and only grower in Australia to produce and process more than 40,000 tons of fruit in one season. And with less than 18 percent of all olive trees planted in Australia, BBL groves have produced approximately half of Australia’s olive oil over the past four years.
Fruit production achieved by BBL is significantly higher than the world and Australian averages. Average oil yields per hectare are several times (370 percent to 1,500 percent) higher than those from the traditional and major producing regions of Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey and Tunisia.
“BBL’s state of the art processing plants in northern Victoria, with more than 1,700 tons per day capacity, are not only the largest processing plants in the Southern Hemisphere but also the most efficient and quality driven,” says Executive and Technical Director Leandro Ravetti. “These processing plants are able to achieve not only the lowest processing costs in Australia, and compatible with the processing costs in any other area of the world, but also feature some of the highest extraction efficiencies, averaging more than 89 percent extraction efficiency over the past four seasons.”
In the past eight years, BBL has produced increasing quantities of olive oil while maintaining extremely high quality standards. As testament to this, in the past two years alone BBL oils have won four Best in Show awards (including Best Oil in Australia in 2009), 22 Gold Medals, 41 Silver Medals and 45 Bronze Medals, making them the most awarded oils in the Australian olive oil industry.
“I think Australia is pivotal to the future of the olive oil industry,” says Rob McGavin. “There are going to be some pretty major advances in the Southern Hemisphere in the next 10 years as far as our position in the world market.” With Boundary Bend’s dedication to embracing new technologies, challenging convention and experimenting with new ideas, the company is sure to be instrumental in these coming events.
Each year, Olive Oil Times commends the achievements of olive oil producers who make an outstanding contribution to the industry. These individuals or companies set the standards of excellence for the rest of the industry to follow and influence the quality, variety, value, and educational information available to olive oil consumers.
Often these leaders have overcome formidable and enduring challenges, or through innovation found new ways to advance olive oil quality in a product range, in their community or throughout the world.
With an eye to the past we recognize the olive oil maker who has managed to preserve or promulgate olive oil’s cultural legacy. Looking to the future, we’re honoring the producer who works to ensure the place of olive oil in our lives and those of generations to come.
The Olive Oil Times Producer of the Year award may be bestowed upon an entire organization or a particular olive oil maker. This recognizes the fact that producing olive oil can be both a collaborative endeavor involving many hands and an individual expression of personal creativity.
Read about the other winners of the 2010 Olive Oil Times Producer of the Year award.
This article was last updated May 24, 2013 - 10:16 AM (GMT-4)