$1.2 million canola and olive oil research laboratory opened

NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Ian Macdonald, today opened the new $1.2 million state-of-the-art Australian Oils Research Laboratory at Wagga Wagga Agricultural Institute (WWAI).

“The Department of Primary Industries’ (DPI) laboratory is Australia’s one and only internationally accredited chemical and sensory testing facility for olive oil,” Minister Macdonald said.

“Scientists and researchers at the Australian Oils Research Laboratory will conduct important tests and screening reports on established and emerging varieties of canola and olive oil to ensure constantly high quality Australian products.

Minister Macdonald said about 50 per cent of Australia’s olive oil is exported into overseas markets including the United States, China, Northern Asia and the European Union.

“The laboratory boasts the latest technology for our scientists, including seed cleaning facilities, a cold store for olives, an oil extraction room as well as seed grinding, oil extraction and oil testing wings,” he said.

“The State’s $3.6 million olive oil industry and $272 million canola industry will benefit from this facility and the wide range of services it will provide.”

Mr Macdonald said the State Government has assisted the oilseeds and olive oils industries since their early beginnings.

“The new laboratory will allow DPI to continue its great work; it will provide a commercial testing service of edible oil products for the industry and individuals as well as superior facilities to undertake research across a range of projects,” he said.

“A key function of the laboratory will be to conduct research into identifying better methods to authenticate the quality of olive products for producers, retailers and consumers. This will have massive spin-offs for the export of oil products such as olive oil.

“Staff will work closely with oilseed and olive producers, marketers and exporters, and will provide screening services for improved quality traits in major Australian canola breeding programs.

“Today is a major milestone for Dr Rod Mailer and his team who have worked tirelessly for many years to build Wagga Agricultural Institute’s international reputation as a leading oil testing centre.

“I congratulate Dr Mailer and his team and am sure they will enjoy working in this new environment.

“The Australian Oilseeds Federation and Grains Research Development Council have been major supporters of NSW DPI’s research into oilseed quality.

“The Australian olive industry through the Australian Olive Association has supported the research program on olive oil and is an important client of the services at the Wagga Agricultural Institute.

“The Rural Industries Research & Development Corporation is also a strong supporter of oils research at Wagga and has committed nearly $300,000 in project funding.”

Mr Macdonald said the laboratory was already receiving international attention with two university students, one from France and another from Pakistan, undertaking practical studies at the site in 2007.

Industry facts:

  • There are 800 commercial olive growers in NSW and 3500 commercial canola growers.
  • In 2006 Australian olive oil production reached 8.65 million litres (NSW 8.3% of this).
  • Value of the Australian olive production is $43 million at point of production and $140 million in the broader supply chain.