You may have bought a red wine from Bordeaux or Barossa Valley, but would you buy olive oil based on its origin?
Identity is a huge selling point for winemakers and now Australia’s olive industry is set to follow suit.
An initiative is underway to assess whether location can significantly impact an oil’s flavour and chemistry profile in a bid to create regional palate profiles.
Involving members of the state olive bodies from South Australia and Queensland, the project’s scientific collaborator Dr Richard Gawel said it would help better market a product’s unique characteristics.
“Most of the industry is dominated by high-volume blended oils coming out of Europe,” he said.
“This project is looking at the possibility of setting up an appellation system whereby consumers can associate an oil with a place and a grower.
The research will investigate creating a system called a product designation of origin (PDO) where oils can be physically placed somewhere.
Mr Gawel said the PDO system in Europe had seen a spike in returns for growers.
“Those oils get much higher prices than average bulk oils,” he said.
“The average price of oil in bulk, that is blended, is only about $5 per litre, and that is a good price.
The CEO of the Queensland Olive Council, Amanda Bailey, said establishing a product’s origin links buyers to the farmer.
“Provenance underpins food authenticity and puts consumers and growers together,” she said.
So would consumers be willing to pay more for a premium quality oil?
Mr Gawel said there definitely is a market waiting to be tapped.
“Having something that can differentiate a product or an olive oil from one region to another … and also understanding that oils from a particular place have a certain flavour that you may like … will drive you to buy that oil again and again,” he said.
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