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The Olivegrower & Processor ‘Rake in the Savings’ competition has been run and won as announced in the May-June issue of the magazine. The Australian winner was Campbell Mercer, from Mt Egerton in Victoria, while the New Zealand winner was Charmaine Maitland of Man ‘o War Olive Groves at Waiheke Island.

The competition ran through the early months of 2009 where new and existing subscribers had the opportunity to answer the question: “What do you think is the biggest challenge facing today’s olivegrower” to win one of two harvesters made available by Eclipse Enterprises and Allendale Garden Products (New Zealand Campagnola agents).

The fight to combat imported oils is a very common theme as you will see reflected in many of the additional entries we received – of which we are pleased to publish more in today’s Friday Olive Extracts.

John Braithwaite, Bathurst NSW: “I am a grower with 500 trees. The main problem for me is harvesting. I have a back pack shaker that does a reasonable job but it is very hard on the arms and back. It is hard to get a contractor to do 500 trees. The biggest challenge for the industry is to stop low quality imports and educate the consumer to buy Australian oil, because of the high standard of good quality oils and their unique taste.”

Rob Scott, Molong, NSW: “We have 1200 olive trees of which 700 are bearing age. We have been reasonably successful in marketing small crops to niche markets but as our production increases it will be harder to sell all of our oil. As a small producer it is very difficult to maintain continuity of supply year by year and an attempt to form a company of producers to overcome this problem was not successful. It has been heartening to hear that the IGA supermarkets are actively seeking to sell only genuine Australian products which would go a long way to overcoming the problem of inferior products being imported from overseas.”

Michael Johnston, North Adelaide: “I have been involved for the past 10 years as a grower, producing varietal oils, albeit in a small way. I have been a member of the local olive association and it seems to me the biggest problem and challenge today is consumer awareness: to buy Australian olive oil, constant promotional activity is needed, that Australian EVOO is both fresher and true to label.”

Shirley Richardson, Henley Brook, WA: “We grow, produce/process and sell EVOO and table olives from our boutique olive shop. The biggest challenge facing today’s grower is maintaining high standards, no succumbing to producing inferior oil. To sustain and promote Code of Practice principles in producing the finest oil. Contribute and fight threats of disease and pests in the olive grower and to adhere to and practice research and development trends.”

Tara Iti Olive Grove, Manga Whai, New Zealand: “We grow olives in sand on a strip of coastal land in the north of New Zealand. We run a small press producing extra virgin olive oil which we sell to our local market. We have the climate and water to grow olives successfully but we have a limited market for our increasing production. Our greatest challenges are two-fold: educating both our local and national populations of the qualities and benefits of olive oil; finding new markets both within New Zealand and offshore. Perhaps the devaluation of the NZ dollar will assist with the latter.”

Barney Gray, New Zealand: “I am an olivegrower in provincial New Zealand and the biggest challenge facing us today is the difficulty in achieving and maintaining a fair premium price for our virgin olive oil. Particularly against the competition of cheap imported oil and also discounted local oil from some of the big olive firms that is sold at supermarkets.”

Look for more reader responses to the competition in September-October issue of Olivegrower & Processor magazine.