AMANDA Bailey believes Queensland's humble olive oil producers should be shouting from the rooftops about their product.
Mrs Bailey is CEO of the Queensland Olive Council and recently hosted 25 olive producers from Queensland and further afield in Toowoomba for a special session to teach them about how to taste and assess their oils.
The event featured the expertise of international sensory expert and olive oil taster Dr Richard Gawel, who recommended one producer bottle up his product and send it straight to an international competition.
Mrs Bailey said olives tended to prefer a cooler climate than many parts of Queensland offered, purely for purposes of avoiding fungal and disease issues.
But with a resurgence of people buying up boutique olive orchards and existing producers refining their products to better suit the market, the only way she could see the industry going was up.
"The Queensland olive industry has gone through some trials and tribulations over the years because of the warm environment, fungal problems, pests and disease because growing is more challenging in a warmer area,” she said.
"But with that in mind there are a whole bunch of dedicated growers and even a lot of new growers and the Queensland industry is going through a re-invigoration stage at the moment.”
She said behind the resurgence in growing olives and producing oil was a number of factors including better commodity prices, good growing seasons and even a willingness among customers to spend a few extra dollars buying a boutique oil at a farmers' market rather than heading for the mass-produced products in a supermarket.
But as far as the last point went, Mrs Bailey said it was all to the good of consumers, who would get a much fresher product with significantly higher health benefits.
She said the active healthful ingredient in an extra virgin olive oil was polythenols, which were a form of antioxidant.
The quicker olives were processed into oil from the picking stage, the higher the polythenol count and the higher the smoking point of the oil.
Add all that to last year being the most productive season Mrs Bailey had ever seen in Queensland, and the industry was really in a position to make some headway.
And while Charleville might be one of the last places you might expect to find a highly-productive, high quality olive orchard, Mrs Bailey said one grower out that way had capitalised on the stellar season to make improvements on-farm that produced a much better product.
Collaborations like the tasting session were another sign the industry was poised for big improvements and Mrs Bailey said it was inspiring to see new producers learning from those with commercially successful orchards.
She said further collaboration was on the cards with another course coming up in January and a webinar on the way in April.
To keep up with the latest industry developments, visit queenslandolivecouncil.com.
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