In the mid 1990s, two college mates decided they wanted to be olive growers – on a small scale.
Two decades later, the pair stand behind one of Australia’s best-known brands in the category.
Rob McGavin was originally from Longreach in Outback Queensland, while Paul Riordan was from Colac in Victoria’s Western District.
They met at Marcus Oldham Agricultural College, just west of Victoria’s second-largest city, Geelong.
McGavin says: “We had ambition, but we never had any plans that we’d be a big olive oil brand one day. It just seemed to grow and opportunities kept coming our way.”
Making the most of those opportunities, the pair’s nous has steered Cobram Estate to the point where today it holds about 25 per cent of Australia’s retail market.
Last year, the company launched into the US market both growing and producing olive oil, and this year picked up the title of “World’s Healthiest Extra Virgin Olive Oil” at the 2017 Health & Food Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards in Spain, for its California Mission Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO).
McGavin says: “Olive oil is one of the most adulterated food products in the world by any standard. The Institute of Food Technologists, which is a not-for-profit organisation in the United States, did a study between 1989 and 2012, and it listed olive oil as one of the most adulterated food products in the world, followed by milk, followed by honey. It means consumers have to trust the source so they’re not ripped off.”
And that’s why the awards are so important: they tell Cobram Estate consumers that their money is well spent.