Australian Olive Association Implements Quality Monitoring Program

The program aims to assure Australians that olive oils are correctly labeled and meet the necessary standards at a time of increasing prices.
By Paolo DeAndreis
May. 1, 2024 15:33 UTC

The Australian Olive Association (AOA), the national body rep­re­sent­ing olive grow­ers, has launched an olive oil qual­ity mon­i­tor­ing pro­gram to scru­ti­nize extra vir­gin olive oils sold in Australia.

The pro­gram aims to assure Australian con­sumers that prod­ucts sold on the mar­ket are labeled cor­rectly and free from defects. This pro­gram will last three years and involve sam­ple tast­ings and analy­sis of prod­uct label­ing.

With these con­trols in place in the mar­ket, con­sumers will be able to rec­og­nize the value of olive oil and con­tinue to choose it.- Micheal Southan, CEO, Australian Olive Association

We run this pro­gram every few years just to check what the olive oil is, mak­ing sure it com­plies with Australian stan­dards,” Michael Southan, the AOA chief exec­u­tive, told Olive Oil Times.

There is no spe­cific issue today as we run the pro­gram,” he added. The fact that it hap­pens at a time when there is a global short­age of the prod­uct is just a coin­ci­dence. We ran a sim­i­lar pro­gram in 2017.”

See Also:Trade Group Announces Olive Oil Quality Testing Initiative

We believe it’s very impor­tant that con­sumers have the utmost con­fi­dence that what they’re buy­ing is as it says on the label and noth­ing else,” Southan con­tin­ued.

Reassuring con­sumers is cru­cial when olive oil prices at ori­gin have reached his­toric highs in the past four months, and fam­i­lies might be tempted to switch to other edi­ble oils.

With these con­trols in place in the mar­ket, con­sumers will be able to rec­og­nize the value of olive oil and con­tinue to choose it,” Southan said.

According to the AOA, con­sumers’ pri­mary con­cern is ris­ing prices rather than qual­ity.

The main chal­lenge for Australia could be the dwin­dling sup­ply of imported olive oil due to the global short­age,” Southan said. We typ­i­cally expect at least half of our con­sump­tion to come from imports.”

With these sup­ply and demand issues, olive oil prices have risen. Consequently, peo­ple are becom­ing more inquis­i­tive about what is hap­pen­ing with olive oil glob­ally, hence their height­ened inter­est,” Southan said.

However, this project was ini­tially con­ceived as being sep­a­rate from any press­ing issues we were aware of and even pre­dates the ini­tial stages of any increase in olive oil costs,” he added.

Australia is one of the largest olive oil-pro­duc­ing coun­tries out­side the Mediterranean basin, and domes­tic con­sump­tion has grown con­sid­er­ably over the past few decades.

According to the International Olive Council (IOC), Australian grow­ers pro­duce approx­i­mately 20,000 tons of olive oil annu­ally.

Data from the IOC also indi­cates a notable increase in olive oil con­sump­tion, ris­ing from 13,500 tons in the 1990/91 crop year to 44,000 tons two decades later. In 2023/24, the IOC fore­casts total olive oil con­sump­tion to reach 53,000 tons.

See Also:Germany’s Consumer Watchdog Warns Olive Oil Quality Is Falling

The ris­ing pop­u­lar­ity of extra vir­gin olive oil and aware­ness of its health ben­e­fits have cre­ated oppor­tu­ni­ties through­out the olive prod­uct chain.

Consumer aware­ness is con­tin­u­ally grow­ing,” Southan said. Consider the chefs who increas­ingly advo­cate for the use of extra vir­gin olive oil. I believe that peo­ple are becom­ing more cog­nizant of the health advan­tages of extra vir­gin olive oils.”


He added, It is becom­ing the pre­ferred choice, as its health ben­e­fits are com­ple­mented by its out­stand­ing fla­vor.”

AOA’s pro­gram will take sam­ples from the entire sup­ply chain, includ­ing locally pro­duced and imported olive oils.

AOA will source sam­ples from super­mar­kets, food dis­trib­u­tors, whole­salers and small grow­ers that sell through bou­tique retail out­lets or farm­ers mar­kets. Checks will also be run on those who sell online through their web­sites and coun­try­wide.

Our focus will be on ver­i­fy­ing the qual­ity of these oils and ensur­ing their com­pli­ance with label­ing stan­dards,” said Southan, ref­er­enc­ing the strin­gent Australian label­ing reg­u­la­tions pro­hibit­ing prod­uct con­tent mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion.

This also applies to prod­ucts that claim to meet Australian stan­dards through cer­ti­fi­ca­tion,” he added. We will ver­ify that they indeed com­ply.”

Olive oil sam­ples and labels from all states and ter­ri­to­ries in the coun­try will be checked ran­domly by the pro­gram.

Because the project spans three years, we’re not just look­ing at this year’s har­vest or last year’s har­vest; we’re look­ing at next year’s har­vest and the year after,” Southan said. The objec­tive is to mon­i­tor the sup­ply sys­tem over the next few years. If we iden­tify any issues, we plan to col­lab­o­rate with pro­duc­ers or importers to rec­tify them.”

We aim to coop­er­ate closely with them,” he con­cluded. That’s the rea­son we have been pub­li­ciz­ing the pro­gram. If an issue is dis­cov­ered, or if some­thing has gone awry, it could be some­thing the con­cerned com­pany is unaware of.”


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