Australian Table olive growers are generally small boutique producers that are increasing in number, as demonstrated by the 2009 Australian Olive Industry R&D Survey that showed almost half of the survey participants as being involved in table olives. Australia’s largest table olive producer is Tree Tops Plantation Pty Ltd situated near Griffith NSW that produced 600 tonne of product in the 2010 processing season.
Australian table olive production in 2011 is estimated at 4,000 tonne, with a Gross Value of Production (GVP) of A$12 million. Whilst grove production bounced back in 2011 following the low 2010 crop caused by the disastrous November 2009 heatwave that decimated fruit set; above average and unseasonal rainfall in many regions during 2011 has increasing pest and disease pressure including anthracnose impacting on grove yields and fruit quality.
Disappointingly both domestic and export market conditions remain difficult for olive producers. Since January 2009 the Australian Dollar (AUD) has appreciated over 60% against the Euro (EUR) from EUR 0.50 to a high of EUR 0.82, thereby making imported olive products correspondingly cheaper, and applying downward pressure on domestic wholesale prices, as well as pricing Australian olive products out of export markets.
Australian table olive exports in the 2010-2011 ABS reporting period is 441 tonne with a value of A$1.7 million. The 20 countries of destination include: NZ (86%), Greece (3.5%), Fiji (2.5%), China (2%), Japan (1%), Indonesia (1%). The average value of exports was A$3.83 per kg including: NZ ($3.79), Greece ($3.37), Fiji ($1.83), China ($3.58), Japan ($6.31), Indonesia ($5.79).
Whereas, table olive imports in the 2010-2011 reporting period (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2011), were 14,815 tonne with a value of A$42.1 million, comprising:
- Black olives: 12,027 tonne with a value of A$33.6 million
- Green olives: 2,788 tonne with a value of A$8.5 million
The 24 countries of origin include Greece (51%), Spain (26%), Chile (6%), Italy (5%), Turkey (4.5%), Argentina (4%), other (3.5%), with the average value of imports being A$2.96 per kg, including Greece ($3.37), Spain ($1.67), Chile ($3.15), Italy ($4.06), Turkey ($2.84), Argentina ($2.45).
Australian apparent consumption of table olives (domestic production plus imports, minus exports) remains at around 0.9 kg / person, which is relatively high for a non-Mediterranean country (but reflecting a large Mediterranean Diaspora). Imported table olives comprise more than 80% of Australian domestic consumption. Whilst the quality of Australian table olives is considered to be of a high standard, it is a small but developing industry of mostly boutique growers that currently supply the local tourist market.
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