Oils and Fats News November 2009

World Congress on Oils and Fats & 28th ISF Congress

The Congress attracted more than 500 registered delegates, 18 exhibitors, 18 sponsors and received over 90 poster presentations from domestic and international businesses and industries. Conexion exceeded sponsorship targets by 25% – producing a highly successful and educative Congress.

The Congress

The Congress opened with an address by Professor Mary O’Kane, NSW Chief Scientist and Scientific Engineer from the Department of Industry and Investment NSW followed by scientific sessions delivered by industry leaders in fats and oils. Karel W Valken, Global Head of Agricultural Commodities for Rabobank delivered a Global Fats and Oils Outlook while the Heart Foundation sponsored a panel session on Health and Nutrition in Public Health.

Monday’s program concluded with the presentation of the William Farrer Memorial Trust Award to the Chairman of the conference Dr.Rod Mailer.  Rod, Principal Research Scientist with the Primary Industries division of Industry and Investment NSW, was this year deserves recipient for his dedication to research in the area of edible oils.

An interesting highlight of the varied and wide-ranging program was the nutrition and cuisine panel discussion, which debated what oil, was best for home use. Represented on the panel were a leading chef, nutritionist, medical specialist, produce supplier and food commentator who discussed the benefits and risks of edible oil varietals such extra virgin olive, avocado, peanut and rice bran oil.

The Congress’ Social Program was specifically designed to allow delegates time away from the formalities of the scientific sessions to meet informally and exchange ideas with colleagues and friends from around the world. A Gala Dinner on Tuesday night held at the iconic Luna Park on Sydney Harbour hosted 325 delegates to a lively evening of networking with international associates and entertainment by three spectacular Pacific Opera performers. Most of the attendant kiwis initially thought the operatics was a spoof which would turn into an irreverent comedy spoof. It was not to be and we had some rare cultural entertainment. The Kiwis were heard singing arias all the next day.

Olive Oil

A presentation from Switzerland reported the sensory survey of olive oils submitted to an award event

2% totally unacceptable

33% not sufficient in quality

45 % just sufficient to qualify

14% good

6% very good

This ties in very well with the Consumer evaluation of imported oils here in NZ showing the majority of them to be inferior.

Paul Miller in discussion talked about an Australian survey when the key word describing the difference between good olive oil and poor was the word “fresh.”

Olive oil was later in the media due to the report showing that a major proportion of imported oils into Australia could not be classified as Extra Virgin, the ACCC is investigating. Let’s hope the same thing happens here.

Presentations from Argentina showed the difficulty of producing oil to satisfy IOC regulations.

Oleic acid, linolenic acid, campesterol and other analyses were often out of specification. The latitude is above 40 degrees-is this an issue?

Greece whilst producing very nice Koroneiki oil admitted to being manipulated and badly done to by Spain and Italy who get oil in bulk from Greece, then stick a margin on it and export as their own.

Following these technical presentations, the political bag man from the IOC or was it  from a Sicilian family stood up to deliver a typed ,prepared manifesto on behalf of the bureaucrats-irritated, several delegates walked out in disgust at this rude and unwarranted distraction in a scientific congress. This was preferable to giving him a whack around the ear.

The drama continued in the Olive oil processing course that followed the congress. This correspondent did not attend that but apparently it was an experience.


Philip Calder gave his usual masterful and informative address about the latest in omega-3 nutrition. This despite having flown in from UK the day before and flying back the next day (steerage as well!).

Kiwi representation

This was quite significant and we would have had more apart from two Russian scientists from IRL whose visas did not get issued in time.

The group photo is attached to the article (see it in Food New Zealand next month)


The AGM was held at the congress. The new president is Dr Karen Murphy; secretary/treasurer is Matt Miller (Plant and food Research, Nelson) with Dr. Amy Richards being the vice-president.


Palm Oil

Geoff Webster has written an informative commentary on the palm oil sustainability issue; this can be found here on our website.

2009 Olives New Zealand Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards

The 2009 Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards announced at the Awards Dinner on 10 October reflect the increasing size and development of the New Zealand extra virgin olive oil market.  New Zealanders are demonstrating their ability to grow and blend top quality olive oils that rank along with the best in the world.  The panel coordinated this year by Ross Legh (ONZ Executive responsible for the Awards), comprised Richard Gawel as the independent Scrutineer, 2 International and 6 New Zealand Judges.

The International Judges were:

-    Deborah Rogers – Panel leader – (California)

-    Cynthia Lund – Panel Leader – (USA)

Richard Gawel (BSc) headed Australia’s first IOC-recognized export tasting panel from its inception in 1997 until 2006 and is a long-time presiding judge of most of Australia’s major olive oil shows as well as a judge at the Los Angeles International Olive Oil Competition.

One hundred and two CERTIFIED Extra Virgin Olive Oils were submitted for evaluation.

Richard Gawel commented that the quality of the oils was extremely high and favourably compares with the international Extra Virgin Olive Oils.

The Judges awarded 36 Gold medals and awarded the Best in Show to an oil produced by Lionel & Gayle Sheridan (Canterbury) for their La Casa Toscana oil.

This is the first time that a Canterbury produced Olive Oil has captured this elusive trophy. The olives produced by the Sheridan’s were processed at the Ohoka based Canterbury Olive Processors plant operated by Graham & Joca Keen and Dallas & Gloria Boyd.

The Sheridan’s success did not stop there. They also captured Silver medals for their La Casa Toscana Sevillano/Picholene Blend as well as their La Casa Toscana Frantoio Single Varietal oil.

Well done to Lionel and Gayle.

Margaret Edwards also won Gold in intense blend and medium blend categories.

Margaret has now officially retired from Olives NZ. She has put in a huge effort over many years to stimulate, educate and train processors in sensory. It was unfortunate that several of the Industry who were disaffected for whatever reason, hounded Margaret unmercifully and unjustly until she had had enough. We wish John and Margaret all the best in their so-called retirement on Waiheke , producing some of the country’s best olive oil. We hope they continue to attend the AGM.

Laurence Eyres, FNZIFST

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