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olive project field day 23/11/02

  1. aramalap2

    3,748 Posts.
    From the web site:

    CEO address to Timbercorp Olive Project at Field Day
    Submitted by Timbercorp Ltd

    Timbercorp Olive Project
    Field day, 23 November 2002
    Speech by Robert Hance, CEO Timbercorp Limited

    Good afternoon everyone, and welcome once again to the Timbercorp Olive Project. My fellow directors at Timbercorp, our management and staff are delighted that so many of you have been able to join us for our second field day at Boort.

    I’d like to welcome especially our growers – those people who have invested in the project – without whom none of this would have been possible. I trust you are pleased with what you see – I know, as a fellow grower, that I am.

    I hope by now you’ve all had a chance to look around the displays here, sample some olive oil and take in the work of our chef for the day, Edward Seisun, who is conjuring some olive oil delights for your pleasure and education.

    If you haven’t yet had a chance to tour the property, please do so. Those of you who were here last year I’m sure will have noticed a great deal of progress.

    For a start, we have planted a further 650 hectares of olive trees – making 2100 hectares in all. That is one thousand times the area of the playing surface of the MCG.

    I think I can say without fear of contradiction that this Boort estate is the largest single olive grove in Australia and, moreover, one of the more significant around the world.

    We have 707,000 trees growing here now. Next autumn we will have planted 178,500 more – covering the next 500 hectare stage of development on our way to the master plan total of between 3000 and 3500 hectares.

    Also next autumn, the first stage of the olive processing facility will be up and running. This will comprise initially just one processing line capable of handling about 3½ tonnes an hour. Eventually this first shed will have seven lines, and over time the whole facility is planned to process 50,000 tonnes a year.

    What this means is that we will be processing our first commercial olive oil in less than six months’ time.

    This is an exciting prospect for those of us – management and growers – who have been with this project since it was a propagated cutting. It is very satisfying for me to look out here now and see the spread of strong, healthy trees in a well-tended grove and the supporting facilities – like the nursery of 200,000 trees, the irrigation system and now the processing plant.

    What you see all around you represents an investment of $40 million, out of a planned total $110 million-plus.

    That is a substantial amount of money in anyone’s language but the point I want to make is not about size – it’s about the achievement.

    This project and other new agricultural ventures in this district – the New Mediterranean as it’s been called – are revitalising an area that was seen as needing a boost to ensure its future.

    Our project alone is employing approximately 45 people full time and at least another 80 to 100 people via contractor services during the establishment phases of the project. There are another 10 building the processing plant and before them there were plenty of others involved in construction of the road system. At maturity we will need another 50 part-time and casual employees on a seasonal basis for harvesting and processing.

    This kind of development becomes especially important at times like this, when drought has again come upon the land.

    Drought affects us all. The uppermost question for everyone in agriculture at this time is: will I have enough water until the drought breaks?

    And the answer has two sides. One side is, yes, we have water due to our policy of acquiring water rights in advance of our immediate needs and our current entitlement is adequate for our needs. The other side is this: the water should not be wasted. In good times, it should not be wasted – in drought, waste should be unthinkable.

    I can tell you water is the key to this project and we have gone to great lengths to ensure not only that we have enough but also that we do not waste it.

    The olive grove – and our 1,340 hectare of almond orchards near Robinvale – is watered by state-of-the-art micro-irrigation systems. These ensure that just the right amount of water is delivered to the right place at the right time. We like to think there is no waste at all.

    As for the supply, we have 49 per cent of our water right at the moment. Over the irrigation season, which runs from 15 August 2002 to 15 May 2003, the Goulburn-Murray Water Authority announces each week the water right allocation. Even if the drought worsens the water allocation will remain at 49 per cent and this project should be able to deliver the necessary water required. An allocation of 52% should provide us with that element of certainty.

    I fervently hope that when we come back here next year the drought will have broken and water has ceased to be a concern.

    Also by then, we will have embarked on marketing our Boort olive oil.

    We have been very active since announcing the joint venture with the Italian Braha/Costa d’Oro group in preparing the ground for our oil in Australian and international markets.

    As you know, there is great interest in olive oil among Australian consumers. Awareness and knowledge are growing quickly. Olive oil is gaining the cachet that good wine has, beyond the specialist palates of food experts and critics – so much so, that the large supermarket chains are very enthusiastic about having a source of Australian olive oil that can in fact meet market demand.

    We have had numerous discussions with domestic wholesalers and retailers as well as overseas interests in Asia, Europe and South America and there is a strong interest in fresh, quality Australian produced olive oil. We are extremely excited by the opportunities that abound for our olive oil.

    We have already had some test pressings and the initial analyses are very promising. Boort will be producing a premium grade extra virgin olive oil.

    We feel sure it will be sought-after by the likes of our chef here, Edward Seisun. He’ll be turning on another demonstration when we’re finished with these formalities and I urge you to go watch him at work.

    Let me tell you something about Edward. He is now a cookery teacher at the William Angliss College in Melbourne after working for renowned chefs such as Jacques Reymond, Ian Curley and Jamie Oliver. When not teaching, Edward enthusiastically takes on assignments like this one today or helps out in restaurants around the town.

    Please go and say hello. He’ll be only too pleased to give you the good oil.

    As indeed are we at Timbercorp.

    Thank you all for being with us today. Enjoy the afternoon and have a safe journey home.

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