Mercacei: “Australian consumers are increasingly demanding with the EVOO they buy”

In an interview with leading olive industry publication Mercacei, AOOA President David Valmorbida discusses the state of affairs of the market for olive oil in Australia and the challenges facing growers and marketers of olive oil as the environment changes and consumers tastes evolve.

Read the article here:

Announcing Quality Seal Program

AOOA Quality Seal

It is a condition of AOOA membership that all oil marketed by members must meet or exceed the International Olive Council (IOC) standard, so membership in the AOOA is a de facto certification program. The AOOA Certified Quality Seal Program has stepped up quality control another notch by submitting the Seal products for testing even more frequently and by including additional analysis.

“A condition of membership in the AOOA is that all members agree to abide by the IOC standard. We ensure the integrity of that principle by regularly testing members’ oil through part of our quality control efforts,” said David Valmorbida, AOOA president. “The seal program, lets product marketed by AOOA members stand out from the competition, with good reason. These companies have taken the initiative to lead the industry by voluntarily following a standard that’s far more stringent than what’s required by the Australian Government. They also contribute time and funds to educate consumers about olive oil and its health benefits and contribute money to promote the category. Now they’re agreeing to undergo even-more-frequent testing and sensory panel testing for the right to use the AOOA seal.”

“Being a premium product, there are often rumours that product marked as olive oil may not be 100 percent authentic. The results of our ongoing testing program demonstrate that consumers can be confident in what they’re buying. The AOOA Seal will give them an added level of confidence,” David said.

The Australian Olive Oil Association (AOOA) follows IOC standards in its tests including sensory analyses and an array of chemical tests. “If you want to be sure about the full picture of authenticity and quality, there aren’t any shortcuts. You have to run them all,” said David Valmorbida.

The Australian Olive Oil Association is a trade association open to all industry stakeholders including marketers, producers, packagers and importers of olive oil in the Australian Market and their respective suppliers abroad. The association strives to foster a better understanding of olive oil and its taste, versatility and health benefits. Our mission is the promotion of consumer education, international quality standards and fair competition in the Australian olive oil industry.

More information about the program here

AOOA talks to 2GB about olive oil in Australia

In an interview with Michael McLaren of 2GB 873AM, the President of the Australian Olive Oil Association, David Valmorbida, talks about olive oil in Australia, the growth of Australian-produced olive oil and the increasing sophistication of consumer choice.  Valmorbida notes the ongoing demand for a variety of olive oils from around the world, as well as the need for imported olive oil in Australia to supplement the growing local production.  According to the current harvest conditions, a major opportunity for the growth of Australian olive oil currently exists under conditions where it has on average become cheaper than imported olive oil in Australia, while continuing to have strong quality on offer.

Download the interview here or click below to listen:

Source: 2GB 873 AM website, Macquarie Media Network Pty Ltd

2015 Mario Solinas Awards in New York City

Each year since 2000 the International Olive Council (IOC) hosts arguably the world’s most coveted competition for olive oil, the Mario Solinas Quality Award.  The award, which is granted only to the top-scoring oils from around the world, is named after the late Professor Mario Solinas, who did so much in the field of research, working closely with the IOC to standardise quality criteria.

The aim of organising this competition is to encourage individual producers, producer associations and packers in the producing countries to market extra virgin olive oils displaying harmonious organoleptic characteristics and to encourage consumers to recognise and appreciate the sensory attributes of such oils.

In the 15th edition of the awards (2015), 111 oils from 7 countries competed, which was slightly down from last year possibly due to problematic crop in many large producing countries in this year.

The oils are classified according to the intensity of their type of fruitiness before being evaluated by a number of IOC-recognised panels according to a special 100-point score sheet which marked the oils for their olfactory, gustatory and retro-nasal sensations as well as for their harmony, complexity and persistence.  The 24 top-scoring oils in each fruitiness section went through as finalists for assessment by an international panel of judges, which selected the winners of the first prize of the Award for 2014 and also proposed second and third prize-winners.

This year, the big winners were producers from Spain and Portugal, with first prizes going to:

  • Finca La Torre of Spain – Category: Intense green fruitiness;
  • SCA Almazaras de la Subbética of Spain– Category: Medium green fruitiness;
  • Casa de Santo Amaro of Portugal – Category: Mild green fruitiness; and
  • Victor Guedes, S.A. of Portugal – Category: Ripe fruitiness.

The awards were presented on June 29th for the first time with the ceremony being at the Fancy Food Show in New York City.

Oils entered into the Mario Solinas awards must have a minimum quantity of 3000 litres produced, which is to be sealed in a tank during the award judging.  After the prizes are awarded, participants may unseal the tank holding the batch of oil entered and winners are allowed to announce the prize on the labels of the extra virgin olive oil belonging to the same batch as the winning sample using a special logo available from the IOC Executive Secretariat for this purpose.

A complete list of winners can be downloaded here: Mario Solinas Awards 2015


Source: International Olive Council

Global production shortfalls in olive oil mean higher prices for Australian consumers

In an interview with the ABC, the President of the Australian Olive Oil Association, David Valmorbida, talks about the implications of expected 27% decrease in global olive oil production on prices in Australia.  55% and 35% production slumps in Spain and Italy (respectively) will be the driving force behind reduced supply and prices for Australian consumers at a high.  Valmorbida notes the possibility that Australian olive oil could become cheaper than imported olive oil at the shelf, depending largely on summer weather variables and the effect they will have on the next Australian harvest in mid-2015.  With high prices in the fresh European crop, which is expected to hit Australian shelves in early 2015, shelf prices are set to rise in the coming months.

Read the article and listen to the interview by Clint Jasper of ABC Rural here:

Sources: ABC Rural

Olive Oil protects the Sydney Opera House

Olive oil, around 105 litres per year, is used to help clean the Sydney Opera House as a part of its Green Cleaning Guidelines.  It is used to moisturise and protect materials such as bronze railings on a daily basis. “We’ve got a three-man team which permanently goes round cleaning the bronze,” says Dean Jakubowski, who manages contractors for the building. “After they’ve got the grime off, they coat the bronze with olive oil, to protect it.”  Without all that olive oil, the bronze would rapidly turn green with verdigris.

The Opera House’s Green Cleaning Guidelines were implemented to minimise the potential impact of cleaning products used on the environment, in particular the Sydney harbour.  As a part of its initiative, cleaners of the iconic building use low-corrosive, non toxic cleaning practices to preserve the materials, including olive oil for bronze fittings, clay for cleaning untreated wood and baking soda for concrete.

Steve Tsouklas, in an interview with the BBC, talks about his love for the Opera House and the way in which he took care of it for almost 50 years since he began working there in 1968.   Tsouklas, who talks proudly of the importance of olive oil in his original homeland, Greece, speaks of the use of olive oil at the ancient Olympics as well as the benefits of olive oil in protection from the sun.  The video containing his sentimental tribute to his “beautiful lady”, the Sydney Opera House, can be seen here thanks to the BBC


Sources: BBC, Sydney Opera House, Sydney Morning Herald

“Flavor Your Life” campaign tastes full of goodness

The campaign ‘Flavor Your Life’ is all about bringing olive oil expertise to the consumer.  It talks about olive oil production, olive oil tasting, olive oil usage and olive oil benefits.  Their website is packed with adventurous cooking ideas and tips that re-emphasise the importance of olive oil, in particular extra virgin olive oil, in promoting wellness and adding flavour.

According to their website, “The name of the campaign ‘Flavor Your Life’, suggests the concept of living in harmony…  …Extra virgin olive oil is not only a condiment to enhance the flavors of our dishes, but it is also very beneficial to our health. The logo is meant to represent all of these concepts …”


The Mediterranean diet is a common theme when it comes to olive oil and this campaign is no exception with health and flavour being the two main messages of this campaign, an excerpt of which is provided here:

Promoting Wellness:

Extra virgin olive oil is rich in antioxidants, accelerates the intestinal absorption of vitamins and helps digestion. It contains the fat-soluble vitamins A, D and E, Vitamin E being the most important because is essential in the fight against oxidative stress and is also concentrated in the mammary gland thereby passing on wellness to newborns through lactation. 

Adds Flavour

Extra virgin olive oil contributes to health, wellness and pleasure by lending its unique flavors and aromas in every dish. Olive oil plays a unique role in the evolution of Mediterranean gastronomy, which is able to combine and exalt the taste and health characteristics of a few simple ingredients, almost all of which are of plant based. It is a magical product in cooking because it helps to maintain flavors and beneficial components of the same foods.


The campaign also allows consumers a decoded insight into the often complex olive oil industry.  Information is provided about olive oil quality, the heritage of the olive oil culture, the production processes and the importance of traceability. A major focus is to provide insight into how the tasting professionals judge  the products, and help consumer to use this themselves to make more educated decisions about buying and using olive oil.

Tasting olive oil is not something that consumers generally do.  It is not like a wine that one simply drinks a bottle of and makes an opinion, because olive oil is an ingredient (a spice if you will), whose taste is important but often mixed or masked by other ingredients in a dish.  But understanding olive oil tasting methods will allow consumers to better use the right oils for their dishes, to taste an oil before deciding how to use it.  Take a pepper for example…unless you know how hot or sweet it is, you don’t know whether or how much of it you should use.

Taste-testing olive oil is a recognized profession governed by the IOC.  Panels of testers smell and taste the oil, which is consumed from a dark glass because the colour of the oil is not an indicator of quality (contrary to popular consumer belief).  Generally, only trained tasters can distinguish the difference in the quality of olive oils, however it seems that more and more consumers are interested in learning. The Flavor Your Life campaign is looking to help consumers do exactly that.

The ‘Flavor Your Life’ campaign will run in Canada and the USA until 2014, and is aimed squarely at educating the consumer.  While, the campaign won’t physically reach Australia, there is no reason why Australian consumers shouldn’t soak up some of their good oil education.


Visit the campaign website here:


Author: AOOA Editor                Source & Logo Copyright: Flavor Your Life

IOC submits comments on proposed standards of Olive Oil Commission of California

The International Olive Council (IOC) has submitted a response to the California Department of Food and Agriculture regarding the Olive Oil Commission of California proposal for new standards for olive oil to be applied against Californian olive oils.  The proposed standard which appear to borrow heavily from the widely-criticized voluntary AS 5264-2011 standard in Australia is significantly divergent from prevailing IOC standards that govern ~97% of the world production of olive oil.  The proposed standard, which is likely only to confuse consumers about olive oil, acts contrary to the global push for standards harmonisation across all food categories.

Click here to read more about the IOC submission

AOOA launches new look

Last month, the Australian Olive Oil Association (AOOA) proudly launched its new-look logo (pictured above) and industry website.   The new logo is designed to combine elements of the letters A and O (that make up the association’s initials – AOOA name), to represent the perfect olive oil drop.  President David Valmorbida says that the logo re-design communicates the heart of the association, which is about ensuring consumers are well educated and have a diversity of choice of the finest olive oils from around the world.

“Our old logo depicted an olive branch on the map of Australia, which is more relevant to growers and distributors, however the new logo signals an increased focus by the association on the relevant industry and stakeholder initiatives from the lens of the end consumer”, says Valmorbida.  “The re-design and re-launch of our website is a first step focused around clarity to industry participants and stakeholders such as retailers, traders, growers, other associations and interested consumer groups and media.  The information is presented in a simple, yet informative manner and will stand as the authoritative source of truth in Australia about olive oil.”  The new website will also serve as a portal to communicate and share information with registered AOOA members.

The AOOA represents members that distribute some of the world’s and Australia’s finest olive oils and represent a majority of olive oil sold in Australia.  Its members have been marketing olive oils in Australia for over 60 years and it is this heritage that is at the heart of the Australian affinity with quality olive oils.

Since 1993, the AOOA has been a signatory to the global quality control program of the International Olive Council (IOC), coordinating annual sampling and testing of leading brands by independent, IOC-accredited laboratories.  According to the AOOA President, David Valmorbida, “promoting olive oil quality and product standards are at the core of the AOOA’s purpose”.  The organisation helps members and industry stakeholders navigate international standards as well as local legislation and regulatory topics. As a peak industry body, the AOOA also takes the lead in relevant discussions at a governmental and international level, representing its members as well as the broader interests of the Australian consumer.

The AOOA welcomes prospective members from all sides of the industry, inviting local and international producers, distributors, retailers, trade organisations and other stakeholders to join under a common vision to ensure the continued development of an industry that champions fair competition and the promotion of quality under a clear, internationally accepted quality standard.   Membership tiers cater for small and large organisations, for producers, importers, distributors and trade organisations.

Enquiries about membership or other topics concerning the olive oil industry can be made via the new AOOA industry website contact forms.