Geelong Region Olives - Building economy of scale for boutique olive p
Published on 22 January 2019
Did you know the Surf Coast Shire is home to more than 20 olive groves, with over 20,000 olive trees? And across the broader G21 Region there are over 70,000! With the potential to yield over 30kg of fruit per tree, that could mean over 2 million tonnes of fruit per year or 350,000L of oil.
As anyone who has grown olives can attest, whether you’ve got 100 trees or 1,000, managing, maintaining and harvesting an olive grove takes passion, commitment and a whole lot of persistence, often with limited reward for the love and labour going in, which in part is why it is estimated that less than 30% of the olive trees across the region are currently actively managed for commercial production. So setting a visionary goal of maintaining and harvesting not one, but all of these groves is a mammoth task.
Looking to provide support to boost the viability of olive production in our region, Steve Parker proposed the development of Geelong Region Olives as a G21 Agribusiness Innovation Roadmap project, facilitating industry collaboration to build the capacity of agribusinesses across the G21 region. Geelong Region Olives is a collaborative enterprise that has commercial agreements with olive grove owners to either lease their trees, buy their fruit or provide services.
Given the economies of scale, GRO is investing capital to address the lack of resources across the region for more than a decade. GRO has already invested in labour and equipment to maintain olive trees and groves optimally. Under a lease agreement GRO provides this service at no cost to the owners. For fruit growers it can be provided as a service. Recently GRO has purchased a suitable dedicated harvesting machine for the 2019 season which will soon be followed by a tank farm for the storage of Olive oil in small batches.
GRO will manage the harvesting processes for leased groves and fruit growers on an individual grove basis. The fruit will be processed by grove and wherever viable by variety and maintained in the purpose built tank farm for settling for a short period of time during which time grove owners can buy back at bulk wholesale prices a small percentage of the processed produce from their properties. In this way GRO is supporting boutique brands and their viability. After settling, the oils are consolidated into the Geelong Region Olive brands before being packaged for wholesale and retail sales.
A key pillar of the Geelong Region Olives strategy is the emphasis of the provenance of the olives and oils. Having our own resources and a region wide approach emphasising the provenance of the individual growers is unique and will create a platform for growth of the agribusiness in our region.
For more information on Geelong Region Olives, or to get involved, please contact Steve Parker: firstname.lastname@example.org or 0439 375 997.