National Table Olive Committee

The Committee was established by the AOA Board in 2007 to provide policy advice for the table olive sector, current membership is:

  • Peter McFarlane, McFarlane Strategic Services (SA) Convenor
  • Prof. Stan Kailis, Australian Mediterranean Olive Research Inst (WA)
  • Jim Smyth, olive consultant (retired) (SA)
  • Dr Michelle Wirthensohn, University of Adelaide (SA)
  • Helen Wylie, Pendleton Fine Foods (SA)
  • Bob Gilliver , Talinga Grove  (SA)
  • Peter Herborn, Laguna Olives( NSW)
  • Stephen Mitchell, Lisborne Grove (NSW)
  • Damien Vodusek, Rich Glen Olive Shop (Vic)

AOA welcomes expressions of interest from other table olive producers, processors, marketers and technical experts who are interested in contributing to this important committee.

The major achievements of the Committee include application of AOA’s Code of Practice for Table Olives, including development of a HACCP style food safety / food quality template for table olives, and developing and implementing a new Voluntary Industry Standard for Table Olives in Australia (RIRDC 12-111), with the aim of enhancing consumer confidence in Australian table olives and distinguishing these in the market place from imported products by applying an AOA Certification Trade Mark logo that guarantees the authenticity, product safety and quality of Australian table olives produced by Code Signatories:

The Committee also serves as an ongoing reference group to the Board to provide advice on meeting the needs of table olive producers and marketers, including effective pasteurisation methods, timing of competitions and development of point of sale materials.  Over the next year the Committee will be involved in the development of a competency based sensory training program for table olive quality assessment.

Table Olive Competitions: The Voluntary Standard for Table Olives in Australia is now integrated into AOA’s National Table Olive Competition rules. New compliance testing arrangements were implemented for the 2014 production season, requiring all exhibits to be tested against specified minimum testing parameters in accordance with the Standard. The Olives SA / Royal Adelaide Show table olive competition, Royal Melbourne Fine Food Awards and the Australian Golden Olive Awards have each adopted the Standard and testing protocols for their 2015 competitions. Other state and regional jurisdictions are also encouraged to adopt minimum testing requirements, as these arrangements are necessary to ensure table olive exhibits are safe for competition judges to taste.

Off the supermarket shelf table olive products: One innovation for the 2014 and 2015 table olive competitions (AOA and Olives SA) was to include in laboratory testing and blind tasting by the competition judges a range of commercial green, black and Kalamata table olive products purchased from local supermarkets. Whilst these products are not eligible for awards, interestingly the imported products average competition score was 18 out of 30 points (below medal contention) compared to the Australian product average score of 22 out of 30 points (which is around the cross over score between bronze and silver medal contention). The encouraging message for Australian table olive producers and consumers alike is that locally produced table olives are generally superior to pasteurised products currently available on supermarket shelves - these are mostly imported from Greece and Spain. 

Whilst the quality of Australian table olives is considered to be of a high standard, ours is a small developing industry of mostly boutique growers that currently supply the local tourist market. Local production is around 3,000 tonne per annum meeting only 10% of consumer demand, and with minimal exports. Australian production will need to be scaled up in order to reliably supply specialty continental food shops and the major retail chains. To achieve this goal growers will also need to master mechanical harvesting of their table olives. 

Join AOA’s Code of Practice: Table olive producers and marketers who are interested in including table olives in their Code of Practice accreditation should contact the Code Administrator Peter McFarlane peter@mc.com.au.