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Olive investors face demand squeeze

THE potential of Australia’s growing olive industry could be squeezed by increased world production, warns a Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation report.

For the first time it is expected that world production will exceed consumption.

The corporation report found Australia’s projected olive harvest would jump from 2,500 tonnes this year to between 37,500 tonnes and 52,500 tonnes by 2006.

However, this growth in domestic production will coincide with increased production in major Mediterranean countries as they modernise their olive industries.

Department of Primary Industries, Queensland researcher Edith Gomez said producers had to recognise olives, and particularly olive oil, were traded as international commodities and were subject to laws of supply and demand.

“Australian consumption has grown in the past ten years from a $30 million market in 1988 to $110 million in 1997,” Ms Gomez said.

“To obtain a 20 per cent to 40 per cent proportion of this market within ten years, in line with projected domestic tree plantings, will be an onerous task,” she said.

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