Paul Miller (second from left) on January 26th, 2012 leaving a senate subcommittee meeting on California's olive oil industry and emerging products in Sacramento, California with Tom Rusert, Tom Mueller, and Deborah Rogers (Photo: Alexandra Devarenne).

After 14 years as the Australian Olive Association’s leader, Paul Miller has stepped down. This is big news for the Australian olive oil industry, which has benefited from Miller’s many accomplishments, including leading the work to tighten olive oil quality standards and the co-founding of the Extra Virgin Alliance (EVA).

Robert McGavin, CEO of Australia’s Boundary Bend Limited, called Miller’s voluntary departure “a momentous day for the Australian olive industry which will forever be indebted to Paul for his achievements and, particularly, his unwavering focus on honesty and integrity in labeling and being brave enough to call out the cheats.”

“Paul has always promoted the importance of the industry focusing on what is best for consumers,” McGavin added, “knowing only too well that this would be in growers’ best interests in the long run.”

Miller’s vast achievements as the leader of the nascent and highly innovative Australian olive oil sector have been chronicled over the years in these pages and beyond, from the passage of Australian standards (and then pressing major retailers to respect them), to his highly publicized assails on mislabeled products and his vigorous participation at crucial industry turning points throughout the world.

In recent years, Miller’s efforts have increasingly been focused on his role as co-founder, with California consultant Alexandra Devarenne, of the Extra Virgin Alliance. “EVA is playing an increasingly important role in achieving positive change in the supply chain and for consumers,” Miller told Olive Oil Times. “Lots of work still to do, but I am optimistic.”

Long dedicated to the world of olive oil, Miller said he is “increasingly focused on international work, and the position requires a domestic focus as well as an international perspective.”

Going forward, Miller will be acting as a director and president emeritus of the AOA, and will continue to make an impact via the association. Stepping into the role of president is Peter O’Meara, the owner of Adina Vineyard and Olive Grove in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales. Miller described his predecessor as “a very capable, experienced and respected man” in the Australian olive industry.

Meanwhile, as Miller’s role in the sector evolves, he sees the industry moving in the right direction. “I note that Europe is taking greater control of olive oil matters in that region, including the IOC, and I think that may be a positive move, depending on what the EU does. The olive world is changing for the better and Australia has played its part.”

And clearly the industry believes Miller, too, has played a big part in making that possible. “Paul has been really important internationally in promoting quality,” said Dan Flynn, executive director of the University of California at Davis Olive Center. “He’s been visionary and effective.”

McGavin agreed. “Paul really put Australian olive oil on the map globally and unselfishly volunteered much of his life to the benefit of the entire olive oil industry.”

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