A WAGGA olive oil testing facility has put the Riverina at the forefront of the industry worldwide.
In a year when Australia is boasting one of its best seasons for olive oil production the Wagga testing facility has also gained an international contract.
Based at the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) the Australian Oils Research Laboratory has secured a contract to test for the Olive Oil Commission of California.
“Extra virgin olive oil must meet strict standards to be sold into the premium market,” said DPI Australian Olive Oil Research Laboratory technical manager, Belinda Taylor.
“We have achieved accreditation from the international olive council for 14 consecutive years, which is another stellar achievement for our staff,” she said
“Californian growers have now developed similar standards to Australia, so its a win for DPI, the olive industry and consumers,” she said.
Meanwhile, DPI has an agreement with the New Zealand Olive Association through its Diagnostic and analytical services branch to test more than 150 samples a year.
The laboratory is accredited to analyse olive from local and international producers for sensory qualities, classifying oil by smell and taste.
DPI edible oils chemist Jamie Ayton said the research into improving the quality of oil through harvest timing and irrigation management was at the forefront of work conducted in Wagga.
“We have just begun a new research project with the Australian Olive Association (AOA) funded by Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited’s Olive industry levy … which aims to increase exports of Australian olive oil to China,” Mr Ayton said.
“Olive oil is increasing in popularity in china and we see this as an opportunity for Australian olive oil producers to get their product into a new and growing market,” he said.
Australia currently exports 3500 to 5000 tonnes of olive oil to the United States, Asia and Europe annually.
The timing of the contract for the Wagga facility this week also coincides with an estimated record season for the Australian olive oil industry. Growers are on track to produce 20 million litres of olive oil this year which is an increase on the 14 million litres produced in 2014.