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I thought I’d write a little about what makes up a bottle of our olive oil. I’ve discovered over the past year that the work and decisions don’t stop once the oil has flowed out of the press. There’s a ton of other stuff to consider when it comes to packaging! Yes, yes, perhaps I should have realised this in advance… I started out with the idea that I wanted to package our oil using Australian components and companies as far as possible. Turns out that that’s quite a challenge, certainly for a business as small as ours.

I want to be able, and proud, to tell people about our product, and every part of the process that goes into it. So, the next few paragraphs give a bit more information about the bottles, the lids, the pourers, the labels, and of course the olive oil!

Olive oil packaging components

Olive oil packaging components

The bottle

I really wanted to have Australian made bottles. Harder than I’d thought as the Australian glass industry is now predominantly flat glass (ie windows, etc.). Owens-Illinois does still make container glass in Australia though, and I was able to buy through Plasdene, who are Australian owned, and have a retail outlet in each state (including Tasmania!) There was really only the bottle I ended up with that was made in Australia, the right sort of size, and available to buy in small numbers.

The lids

With these bottles, and the small volumes, there wasn’t really a choice. The caps we’re using are called Novatwist, and are made by a company which is part of TetraPak. They’re plastic and said to be fully recyclable. When capped on glass bottles, they provide energy required for the melting process. I also bought these from Plasdene. I’d meant to try and find out where they were made, but never got around to it – it’s now back on my to do list!

The pourers

Complete fail on finding an Australian version. The ones I ended up with are manufactured in India, and I purchased them through an American online store. Alternatives were from China, but it seemed difficult to get a sample. If anyone can suggest a more local alternative I’d love to hear about it.

The labels

Designed by me and printed by Labelpress in Hobart. They gave me lots of great advice on label types and how the design affects printing costs. I ended up with a laminated plastic material to avoid peeling or staining of the label by oil. These ended up being relatively expensive because I only wanted a very small quantity (and they’re full colour).

The EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL

Last in this list, but not least! Our delicious, peppery, Tasmanian EVOO. Grown, picked, and pressed by us, all on site at our farm. The current vintage is from picual olives, harvested and pressed in the last week of June and the first week of July 2014.

 

The finished product

The finished product

But why am I telling you all this? Well, I like to know what I’m buying. When I purchase a product, I want to be able to make an informed choice about what it is and where it’s come from. This is often harder than it appears! I’m thinking particularly about food here, but it applies to much, much more.

Am I in a minority in feeling this way? This article from the Sydney Morning Herald on Wednesday discusses price and country of origin issues in Australia, looking particularly at processed fruit and vegetables (found via the Sydney Sustainable Living Facebook page). I do sometimes just pick the cheapest option when I’m shopping, but I’d still like to be able to know what it is. And if I’m spending more, on what I think is a premium product, I want to be sure that it is, and I’m not just paying for clever marketing.

I’d love to know more about what other people think! Should it should be easy to find accurate information about what we buy? Is price the most important parameter when you’re shopping? Is it worth spending extra on our packaging in order to support other Australian businesses? FFx