28 Oct 2009

Olive industry seen as at cross-roads

1:37 pm on 28 October 2009

The New Zealand olive industry is at a cross-roads in deciding which direction to take in marketing its oil.

As relatively young industry, it's been selling the oil as a boutique product.

But as production increases, growers are faced with the need to find new outlets for sales on the domestic market.

Olive NZ says there will be a need for a consolidation of brands as the industry grows.

Matapiro Olives owner John Arthur says there are a lot of very small groves at the moment and consolidation of brands is needed in future with, perhaps, a cooperative system of supply for branded products.

He says expanding into a commercial market will require promoting New Zealand olive oil in supermarkets.

But he says domestic oil won't be able to compete on price with low-cost, bulk-produced imported oils, as the production costs are higher.

Mr Arthur says higher production costs mean New Zealand olive oil can't compete in the international market with mass-produced oils, either. He says that will mean marketing the oil for its unique flavours.

The industry has been considering a levy to raise funds for research and marketing, but it is still debating that.