Aussie olive producers chalked up 2018 as one of the toughest seasons on record but interest in Australian-produced table olives is giving boutique olive farmers hope for the future.
Small can be good for Australian growers, especially those that can capture the hearts of gourmet produce consumers.
The reward for success that boutique olive farmers Leon and Imogen Bettio reaped through hard work and attention to detail is a Gold Medal at the 2018 Australian International Olive Awards.
Leon and Imogen Bettio of Elisi Grove in the Adelaide Hills have eight hectares of trees. There are around 900 olive growers in Australia but only about 21 of those are considered large scale with more than 80 hectares.
“Our grove is situated on a gentle slope of loam over limestone east of the Adelaide Hills along the banks of the Murray River in Woodlane, South Australia,” Imogen Bettio says.
“We have five different varieties of olives – Kalamata, Signore, Koroneiki, Corotina and Frantoio – from a total of 4112 trees.”
The 2018 harvest was especially rewarding with Elisi Grove awarded a Gold Medal in Class 14 at the Australian International Olive Awards for its Kalamata olives in unpasteurised brine.
Among the judge’s comments were ‘good appearance, big size, no blemishes, good fruity olive aroma, good firm texture, great balanced flavour’.
The Australian table olive market is dominated by imports from the Mediterranean region where most of the world’s olives are grown. Spain and Greece supply 80 per cent of the Australian market with Australia a very small but very high-quality producer of olives on a global scale.