September 2020
The “AOA Update” is a periodic e-newsletter from the AOA Board to keep AOA members and the wider olive industry up-to-date with the strategic and operational aspects of the Association. Feedback is encouraged via email to secretariat@australianolives.com.au.
President's Message
Many locals near me with generations of experience and long memories of hardships on the land have described the last summer as the worst in memory, and the autumn and winter to follow as one of the best. It’s reassuring that this is a fairly wide-spread experience in many olive growing regions around the country.
 
Now, as pruning continues and spray programs commence, the march towards flowering is nearing. The hope for good fruit set and a subsequent voluminous harvest in 2021 is a positive outlook which we all need.
 
COVID19 is still the dominant problem we are facing, with wide ranging implications from labour and contractor movements, border closures and lockdowns, and the need for COVID19-safe workplaces, to restricted and diminished markets. The AOA has aimed to assist both members and the wider industry by providing, where possible, the essential information you require to continue operating in these difficult circumstances.
 
Our webinar series continues to be very well received, giving growers and producers valuable resources and information to improve productivity and quality. The format of the webinars is how we will deliver our “virtual” conference this year. I’m confident you will agree the AOA team has put together a great program for this important annual event. Our AGM will also be held via Zoom, giving our members an easy way to engage with our organisation.
 
Recently I and other directors have been participating in Plant Health Australia workshops, ensuring preparedness and awareness of the processes to deal with any exotic pests and disease incursion. Real life experiences of the citrus and chestnut industry responses were used as case studies in the workshops. This valuable knowledge and experience is ensuring we are able to best look after our own should an outbreak occur in our industry. 
 
The AIOA competition is culminating with the judging process in the coming weeks. We are looking forward to the well-deserved accolades which follow awards earned by those that have been able to produce outstanding products, particularly under such very difficult circumstances. Good luck to all those who have been able to enter exhibits this year.
 
The Health Star Rating System Review has been finalised with a disappointing result of the status quo prevailing. However, we are determined to continue towards the next review in five years, with a sound approach to ensure the national dietary guidelines are truly representative of the health and dietary benefits that EVOO provides to all consumers.
 
Representing our interests to government, AOA submissions on FTAs remain active, as do our contributions to the CODEX processes, ensuring quality and freshness parameters continue to be internationally recognised.
 
I’m looking forward to seeing you - albeit remotely - next month at the conference.
 
Good health to all.

Regards,
Michael Thomsett 
CEO's Message
The tough times continue for many in our industry but the widespread rain with the promise of more to come, has brightened the future a little with the prospect of good production in 2021.

The other positive is that the COVID19 disruption has forced many businesses to revisit their strategies, business models, marketing, operations, and grove management to make more robust and resilient commercial units. There will be few businesses that look the same when we finally emerge from the pandemic.

The initial 2020 industry production estimates are now to hand and confirm what a difficult season it has been across the country. Only 55,400 tonnes of fruit was harvested to produce 9.97 million litres of olive oil. Table olive production was decimated by the failure of the crop in the Riverina although the number of smaller producers has increased significantly.

The seasonal outlook for southern Australia is for a cooler wetter finish to the year. This coming harvest is scheduled to be an “on year” so prospects for a good crop in 2021 are quite positive and widespread at this point in time. Hopefully most COVID19 restrictions will have been lifted nationally by the time pickers are required, and our industry can enjoy a well-deserved abundant harvest.

Despite the COVID19 restrictions there is plenty on so read on to find out what’s happened and what is coming up over spring.

Greg Seymour
CEO
Advocacy and Representation
HSRS for Edible Oils
The Australia-New Zealand Food Forum recently announced the Health Star Rating System (HSRS) for edible oils will remained unchanged until the next review in four year’s time. The result was disappointing considering the resources invested by the AOA in seeking change and the quality of our advocacy. The AOA has no confidence in the HSRS in relation to edible oils because it misleads the public about the relative healthiness of oils. AOA will now turn its attention to representations on the Australian Dietary Guidelines (ADGs) and use the resources amassed for the HSRS advocacy to press for changes to the ADGs with respect to edible oils. Stay tuned. 
AU_EU and AU_UK FTA Update
The AOA has continued working with the Commonwealth Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the Department of Agriculture, Water, and Environment (DAWE) on the Australia-European Union Free Trade Agreement (AU_EU FTA) and the Australia-United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement (AU_UK FTA). Activity in both is starting to build and the AOA is also involved in opposing a Geographical Indicator for Kalamata in Japan.

The Government is seeking feedback from individuals and industry organizations on changes to IP legislation to accommodate any changes that may be required. Details can be found here.
AOA Activities and Initiatives
AGM
The 2020 Annual General Meeting of the Australian Olive Association Ltd will held by Zoom video meeting on Thursday 15 October from 14:00 – 14:45. This is a members only meeting. Members will receive an e-notice shortly with further information and a link to register to attend.

Board Nominations: TAS, VIC, LEG
In 2018, the AOA Board undertook to establish a rotational system for directors to ensure there was an opportunity for refreshment and succession management. The system requires 3 directors (2 x state, 1 x LEG) to retire each year. AOA members in the state related to the retiring director or LEG group are asked to nominate a member to serve a 3-year term on the Board.

The AOA Director nomination process will begin shortly. The Directors who will retire at the 2020 AGM are Christine Mann (nominated from TAS); Rita Bikins (nominated from Vic); Lisa Rowntree (nominated from LEG group). Director nomination forms will be emailed directly to financial AOA members in each relevant nomination group in the next few days.
2020 AOA National Olive Industry Virtual Conference
The physical version of the 2020 National Olive Conference and Exhibition planned for Devonport in October this year had to be postponed until October 2021 due to COVID19.
This year’s event is going online next month and will consist of four by two-hour sessions held over four days at 3:00 – 5:00pm each day from Tuesday 13 October to Friday 16 October. Registration will be free for all members with full details to be communicated via email this week.

A detailed program will be available shortly on the OliveBiz website. The short version is: Tuesday 13 - soil management; Wednesday 14 - grove management; Thursday 15 - olives and health; Friday 16 - olive marketing. There is a tremendous line-up of outstanding speakers delivering cutting edge content directly related to olive businesses. The Australian International Olive Awards Gala Presentation will be held via Zoom from 17:30 – 19:00 on Friday 16 October.

The online format will be highly interactive with high quality informative presentations from experts with the chance to ask them your questions and contribute comments live. We’ve learnt from the AOA’s webinar program that delegates learn heaps from the live responses to other people’s questions.
Productivity and Profitability Webinars
Postponement of Soil Management Field Days until New Year
The national program of soil management field days postponed from earlier this year has now been rescheduled for February and March next year when hopefully COVID19 restrictions will be relaxed sufficiently to allow interstate travel and medium sized groups to congregate. Stay tuned for an announcement in December of dates and venues.
IPDM Survey and Project Resources
All olive growers will shortly be receiving an invitation to participate in the national Industry Pest & Disease Management (IPDM) Survey. This is a follow-up to the survey conducted in 2018 and is an integral element of the levy-funded R&D industry IPDM project. The responses will assist in determining the success of the project’s aims. Participation is anonymous. All Australian growers - including those that previously completed the 2018 survey - are urged to complete the survey as soon as possible.

For those that missed out on the ‘IPDM Project Resources and How to Access Them’ webinar that was held on the 1st of September, the video recording and resources project outputs can be accessed here. These items are referred to in the survey - they are invaluable practical reference guides for managing pests and diseases and are available for free for all to access.
September Olivegrower & Processor out soon – do you have a subscription?
The September edition of Olivegrower & Processor has news on Australian research proving EVOO’s beneficial effects on blood pressure, and AOA advocacy on current labelling issues; results from the first regional competitions for 2020; a look at the recovery of olive groves after the devastating December bushfires; and peer-to-peer grove management tips – including step-by-step, costed instructions on how to extend your fencing to keep pesky critters at bay. Along with updates on levy R&D projects, tips to ensure product quality and more, it’s a cover-to-cover read to support your olive business.

If you don’t have a subscription ($40/year for AOA members) click here or contact Liz secretariat@australianolives.com.au or 0478 606 145.