Good Oil: Corio’s Cobram Estate pumps up its export arm

Australia’s largest olive oil producer, headquartered in Corio, is making inroads into Japan, Korea, and the US.

“We’ve developed the Australian market targeting consumers who will pay a premium for quality and superior health benefits. We aim to replicate this strategy in export markets. We’ve proved this is possible in the US and in a smaller sense throughout Asia. Our strategy is to target partners in export markets, be they distributors or retailers, who understand how to market quality, natural food products.” Ashley Read, Cobram Estate Olives bulk sales manager.

Cobram Estate Olives isn’t letting a pandemic get it down.

The company, which produces 70% of the nation’s extra virgin olive oil from 2.4 million trees covering 6,584 hectares in northern Victoria, is a prime example of how companies can successfully diversify their export business.

Even during tough times.

Despite challenges created by COVID-19, the business – which owns the two top-selling Aussie extra virgin olive oil brands, Cobram Estate and Red Island, with combined national supermarket sales of $135 million per annum – is focusing more on exports as 60% of its Victorian plantations reach maturity.

That plan includes developing the Japanese and Korean markets, in addition to channels already established in the Chinese and US markets.

Eyes on North Asia

Ashley Read is Cobram Estate Olive’s bulk sales manager and notes that “Japan’s the largest consumer of olive oil in Asia, followed by China and South Korea.”

“Olive oil’s consumed in Japan through retail and foodservice, with Tokyo housing more than 2,000 Italian restaurants alone. Therefore, opportunities for a multi-channel strategy exist, and we can target our products to customers in each channel with relatively small amendments to what we sell in Australia.

“Whilst China is an important country in our Asian export strategy, other markets in the region also offer great opportunities for expansion. We need to keep working on understanding more about these markets.”

California dreaming

Domination in the United States is in the company’s sights, too. It’s already the third largest producer there, accounting for 20% of the US annual olive crop.

Does Ashley see an even stronger future in California?

“Absolutely,” he replies, noting that Cobram Estate Olives has been building production in a big way in the US since 2014.

Along with over 149,000 trees planted on 305 hectares, they own a nine-acre property in Woodland, California, with olive milling capacity of 40 tonnes of fruit per hour, 2.9 million litres of olive oil storage and warehouses covering about 5,000m².

“Cobram Estate was the 10th ranked olive oil brand in the US and the fastest-growing mainstream olive oil brand in US supermarkets (with sales growth of 93%) over the 12-month period to April 2021,” Ashley says, and he forecasts an even greater sales uptick as they plant more trees in California and expand US distribution.

Victorian Government supporting Cobram Estate’s export journey

Cobram Estate has extensively engaged with the Victorian Government, through Global Victoria on its international export journey since 2003.

International introductions and connections have been made through the Victorian Government Trade and Investment (VGTI) offices network, enabling strong outcomes with distributors and retailers.

And the company has participated in Global Victoria’s inbound and outbound missions to expand their international footprint and increase exports.

A recipient of Global Victoria’s Global Gateway Program, Cobram Estate is using this grant to gain in-depth consumer and competitor insights as it looks to pursue new markets.

Cobram Estate’s World’s Biggest Virtual Olive Oil Tasting

Whilst you’re here, Cobram Estate invites you to GO FOR GOLD!

Help Australia set a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title and join the World’s Biggest Virtual Olive Oil Tasting! Reserve your place and join Cobram Estate’s record-setting virtual tasting masterclass on 28 October.

Learn more and register here


Article courtesy of our good friends and colleagues from The Victorian Connection, and written by Georgina Jerums.

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