`Importers Accuse Australian Group of Making False Claims - Olive Oil Times

Importers Accuse Australian Group of Making False Claims

Dec. 9, 2013
Charlie Higgins

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The Australian Olive Association (AOA) is tak­ing some heat for a new $300,000 ad cam­paign claim­ing that Australian oil is fresher, tastier and bet­ter for you” than most imported oils.

The AOA’s #buyaussieo­liveoil cam­paign launched last week and fea­tures dietit­ian Joanna McMillan encour­ag­ing con­sumers to choose domes­tic olive oil prod­ucts over imported ones.

The Australian Olive Oil Association (AOOA), com­prised mostly of importers and some local grow­ers, has responded by lodg­ing a com­plaint with the Australian Competition and Consumer Association (ACCC) over the cam­paign, which they say con­tains mis­lead­ing and false information.

We strongly object to the self-inter­ested and untruth­ful cam­paign­ing by the AOA who are putting con­sumer choice at risk by using scare tac­tics and mis­lead­ing infor­ma­tion in an attempt to influ­ence retail­ers and the gov­ern­ment into adopt­ing a stan­dard for olive oil that was rejected by the International Olive Council,” the AOOA said.

The AOOA took par­tic­u­lar issue with the claim that Australian olive oil is health­ier,” say­ing that coun­try or ori­gin is not nec­es­sar­ily a deter­mi­nant of health ben­e­fits. The claim that Australian oil is fresher” was also dis­puted, with the AOOA not­ing that olives are only har­vested once a year in each hemi­sphere, which means the degree of fresh­ness of a local prod­uct would depend on the season.

“(The AOA) have been involved in active pro­mo­tion against imported olive oils for some time now. But we do take issue when incor­rect infor­ma­tion is passed on to con­sumers because it is not in their best inter­ests,” said AOOA pres­i­dent David Valmorbida.

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There are two sides to the story and ide­ally an indus­try would­n’t have two sides, it should be pro­mot­ing and col­lab­o­rat­ing,” he added.

The AOA cites data from tests con­ducted between September, 2011 and August, 2013 of 106 imported oils rep­re­sent­ing 40 dif­fer­ent brands. The tests con­cluded that 93 per­cent of the brands failed to meet the Australian Standard AS 5264 – 2011, with at least one olive oil prod­uct in their brand range, accord­ing to the AOA.

For years now the Australian Olive Association has been pro­vid­ing raw data to the ACCC. The AOA would be pleased to meet with the ACCC to take them through the evi­dence that unequiv­o­cally sup­ports these claims. A large por­tion of this infor­ma­tion has been shared with the ACCC over recent years any­way,” Lisa Rowntree, CEO of the Australian Olive Association, told Olive Oil Times.

Roundtree pointed out that 47 per­cent of the olive oil imported into Australia is refined using processes that remove the healthy antiox­i­dants and alter fla­vor. She said this refined olive oil is, by grade def­i­n­i­tion, less healthy and less tasty than Australian olive oil, of which over 90 per­cent is extra vir­gin, a grade indi­cat­ing its high qual­ity and healthy attributes.

I believe that the only ones putting con­sumer choice at risk are the importers who refuse to com­ply with the Australian Standards and who con­tinue to sell refined oil in Australia as pure, light and extra-light instead of label­ing it cor­rectly as refined olive oil,” Rowntree said.

Our #buyaussieo­liveoil cam­paign is not about keep­ing the importers out, as we rec­og­nize that we fall a long way short at the moment of replac­ing our imports — our num­ber one key con­cern is truth in label­ing,’” she added.


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