Australian olive oil producers face significant commercial risk

Stone tablet image pressing the farmers olive oil
Pressing the farmer’s olive oil.

The sole internationally recognised Australian sensory panel run by the NSW DPI Olive Testing Service recently lost its International Olive Council (IOC) recognition leaving the industry without a sensory compass. Loss of the panel’s IOC accreditation raises serious questions about the commercial risks involved for Australian and New Zealand producers.

Peter Day, the acting Group Director EIOP on behalf of the NSW DPI, which administers the now officially unrecognised panel, said that:

“The Australian Olive Association (AOA) continues to recognise the determinations of the panel for the purposes of their supported OliveCare ® program and of ‘market surveys'”,  which presumably includes those published in the consumer magazine Choice.

Mr Day also stated that “International Olive Council accreditation is relevant in the event that an international buyer requires the assessment or if there is a trade dispute regarding the true classification** of the product”.

Significant financial ramifications

We note that the potential significant financial ramifications of such disputes to exporters who rely on the opinion of a non-recognised panel—which could include repatriation of their oils to Australia at cost from the wharf, or in the case of packaged product, from the retail shelf—were not mentioned.

Despite these concerns for Australian olive oil producers, a recent unauthored article in the Olive Grower and Processor magazine pronounced the AOA’s full confidence in the NSW DPI’s testing service.

Sensory accreditation may be regained in 2020

The NSW DPI olive oil testing service continues to provide accredited chemical testing services, and has stated that it is working toward regaining IOC recognition of its sensory panel in 2020.

**To be recognised by the IOC , extra virgin olive oil must meet both chemical and sensory parameters.


Confidence remains in NSW DPI Oil Testing Services; 4-5; Olive Grower & Processor March 2019 – no author cited.