The second attempt to establish an Australian olive industry is due to bear fruit. Harvest-time ahs arrived and farmers are poised to gather the first olives from groves planted four years ago.

An Olive Business 2001 programme is now being run to help growers get the best out of their crops. It involves several seminars and tutored tasting.

Organiser of the programme, Simon Field, revealed that so far Australian products account for only 2% of an olive oil market worth A$175m and dominated by Italian and Spanish growers. Fifteen years ago, growers made an abortive attempt to boost the domestic industry, but "this one has gathered a lot more momentum."

Field added: "The next three years are critical as to how we handle and process the olives, and we'll find out then what their characteristics will be."