Home' Grower : April 2011 Contents The South Australian Grower -- April 2011
risk for virgin oils
AUSTRALIAN Olive Association chief
executive officer Lisa Rowntree is con-
cerned the ongoing turf war between
Coles and Woolworths has the potential to
damage the industry.
"Coles' recent decision to permanently
reduce the price of staple grocery items,
including olive oil-immediately causing
Woolworths to follow suit -- can only lead to
lower prices being paid to Australian farm-
ers," she said.
The AOA has written to both supermar-
kets to get clarification on questions they
believe are very important to AOA mem-
bers and consumers:
•Do Coles and Woolworths put a lower
profit margin and give better trading terms
to imported or homebrand olive oils?
•Are they making great margins from
Australian olive oils,
resulting in higher retail
prices and making them
less competitive than
imported or homebrands
and forcing consumers to
pay more for Australian
•Why are the major
supermarkets still stocking
major imported brands of
extra virgin olive oil that
are are not, in fact,
Two Federal Government sur veys in 2009
and 2010 showed that about 80 per cent of
imported olive oil labelled as extra virgin
did not meet specification.
In June last year, Choice magazine identi-
fied numerous extra virgin olive oils that
failed to pass quality tests, mostly imported
that and being stocked and promoted by
the major retailers.
"The advertised price for imported
Spanish oil at the moment is below our
cost-of-production," Ms Rowntree said.
"We have also been informed by our
grower colleagues in Europe that they are
selling their oil below cost while trying to
sur vive the very difficult economic condi-
tions in southern Europe.
"As an efficient and careful grower myself,
I question if pricing based on this situation
is sustainable and wonder about the product
quality that results from such price pres-
But Ms Rowntree believes there is a big-
"I suppose it is similar to the petrol situa-
tion -- once local food production cannot
compete, then not only will we be com-
pletely reliant on overseas countries for our
food, the long-term social impact on rural
Australia will be disastrous," she said.
"I just hope retailers and consumers alike
will get behind Australian food -- including
its olive oils. Farmers have copped a beating
with natural disasters, such
as droughts, floods and
Australian olive farmers
also have to cope with
subsidies paid to European
olive growers and proces-
The new season's olive
har vest will start shortly,
leading to an abundance
of fresh Australian EVOO.
"We work all year to produce this fantastic,
healthy, natural product," Ms Rowntree
"What can we do? I think it is important
to increase consumer awareness so that cus-
tomers are able to make an informed deci-
sion at the supermarket shelf.
"This is why the AOA has concentrated on
the establishment of a code of practice for
Australian EVOO and is now focusing on
the establishment of recognised standards
for olive oils in Australia and New Zealand
that are intended to make the various qual-
ities and grades of olive oil clearer to con-
In the meantime, Ms Rowntree said con-
sumers should continue to look for
Australian olive oil that has the Certified
Australian Extra Virgin symbol displayed on
Details: Melanie King 0414 341 328 or Lisa
Rowntree 08 8535 7170.
been accused of
putting a lower profit
margin and giving
better trading terms
to imported or
homebrand olive oils.
As an efficient and careful
grower myself, I question if
pricing based on this situation
-- Lisa Rowntree
Product sold below CoP
Imported oils fail quality test
Labelling still misleading
AT A GLANCE
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