OLEA Australis will launch its new extra virgin olive oil next month in a move aimed at targeting domestic and international premium olive oil markets.Earlier this year the WA-based company signed a distribution agreement with Manassen Foods, as well as memorandum of understandings with Italian olive oil producer Turri and French based olive oil producer and distributor, A L Oliver.The company is currently in negotiations to secure distribution deals in the UK and US, but Olea chief executive officer Geoff Newing said all deals would involve Olea owning the brand and not just selling the oil.“Our underlying strategy is to own the brand sold to the consumer. We are creating a brand that is Australian so that people recognise it as a good food source, and so that this particular name is representative of high quality,” he saidMr Newing said the olive oil would be a perfect counter-seasonal supplier to the European market.“Up to 40 per cent of Italian olive oil is sold in November and December because that is when it is at its best,” he said.“People don’t buy it after then because of the oxidation process.”Mr Newing said by creating an upmarket product, which was blended by some of Perth’s top chefs earlier this week, the company would be able to attack an emerging food ingredient market.“The food ingredient market is the fastest growing market in the olive oil demographic,” he said.“There is a severe shortage of premium olive oil producers.“The chefs know oils very well, both from a consumer point of view and from a technical point of view. Having the chefs create the blend helps us from an education and marketing perspective, it becomes the chefs’ blend.”Mr Newing said Olea could produce premium oil because of a small harvest size and the application of wine grape technology.“You have a two to three-week window to harvest the olives,” he said.“In Italy and Spain there is no way they can get all of those olives before the fruit starts to degenerate. I have a Gregorioe harvester that can harvest all the olives in 22 days. We can do this because we can prune the overhead vines.”Mr Newing said Olea’s product would be perfect for export to the European market.Olea’s 215,000 olive trees sit on 500 hectares of land at Dandaragan, which makes it the largest operation by number of trees in the Moore River region.Moore River has impressed many global producers. Mr Newing said there have been several visits from big olive oil companies looking to grow trees in the region.Olea is the only sole-purpose listed olive oil company in Australia and raised $10 million in a prospectus offerings in 2000 and 2001. Shares are trading at about 20 cents after hitting a 12-month peak of 30 cents in late February.
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