Simon Field is the founder of International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Savantes and an olive producer and trader. He has a Masters degree from Cambridge University and is a former Executive Director of The Australian Institute of Agricultural Science and Editor of the journal Agricultural Science. He has also held senior elected positions in farmer organisations. His publications include handbooks on every aspect of olive production, processing and marketing.

Fruity, a Little Bitter and Spicy provides a practical Australian producer’s view of the establishment of an olive enterprise and entry into the global market. Moving from the early days of planting trees, the production of olive oil and involvement in international trade and events, the reader acquires an expansive knowledge of the global industry.

After the initial research and grove establishment, a tour is taken of the main producing regions in Europe to explore the different styles of product and production systems. Along the way the lifestyle of producers and the association of olive oil with food is recounted with anecdotes of generosity and conviviality. Interwoven into the fabric of the people and their groves is technical information essential to the understanding of the olive oil, its flavour and usage. The traps and opportunities are identified and explored to the advantage of anyone aspiring to become or is already involved in the olive oil trade.

The lack of growth in the global consumption of olive oil for the last ten years leads to a critical appraisal of the activities of producers, traders, local and international associations, institutions and governments. The parochialism and regional competition which pervades the industry is challenged and a more united approach advocated. The ineffectiveness of the increasingly bureaucratic International Olive Council in meeting its mission of looking after the interests of the ‘ordinary people’ (producers) is revealed. A series of remedial actions is suggested, starting with the producers increasing their knowledge and improving their ability to initiate change. Other suggestions include a softening of the technical approach to product evaluation to one which recognises the different flavour preferences of individuals and the cuisine of consumers. It is argued that the industry training to look for flavour defects in olive oil before identifying the positive attributes generates a negative attitude amongst tasters and consequently consumers.

The book will attract the interest of those considering investment in the olive oil industry at all levels as well as those already involved. The challenge to the current practice and self-interest of some leaders, and their organisations, will provoke animated discussion leading to change at many levels. The book brings together multiple threads of current commentary from small to medium producer enterprises to present a comprehensive view of burgeoning and disconnected bureaucracies and fringe enterprises which are built on their production and diminish their viability.

Fruity, a little bitter and spicy: A Producer's Taste of the Global Olive Oil Industry is available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle ebooks. (US) (UK) (Spain) (Australia)