Major Australian olive oil producer goes into receivership

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 6th December 2011

The collapse of global olive oil prices and the volatile market conditions for olive oil producers from Europe and North Africa are being blamed for one of Australia’s largest olive oil producers, Kailis Organic Olive Oil Groves Group, going into receivership, according to the receivers, KordaMentha.

Others are saying that the financial woes encountered by the company are partially self-made and attributable to a failed managerial investment scheme, creating refinancing difficulty.

Kailis Organic Olive Groves, run by Western Australia’s famed Kailis family, went into administration at the end of November 2011.  Perth-based McGrathNicol were appointed voluntary administrators of the company, which comprises of Kailis Organic Olive Groves, Kailis Olive Processing, Everyday Organic and Organic Olive Management.

The Group reportedly has debts amounting to around A$18 million.

At a meeting held on 28 November 2011, the company’s main secured creditor, Westpac Bank, appointed Australian insolvency firm KordaMentha as the receivers.

A KordaMentha spokesperson told Australian Food News today, “We’re now maintaining the olive groves and have put the assets of the business on the market. This includes 3,900 acres over four properties and 1,800 acres of olive plantations.”

“The assets have just gone on the market and we have already had some interest. However, we will run a thorough sales campaign to optimise results for the shareholders,” she said.

A casualty of cheap olive oil imports?

The impending sale of Kailis Organic Olive Groves comes after reports of Australian olive oil producers being undercut on Australian supermarket shelves by cheaper foreign imports.

Australian Olive Association (AOA) CEO Lisa Rowntree said, “The advertised price for imported Spanish oil at the moment is below our cost of production. We are also informed by our grower colleagues in Europe that they are selling their oil below cost while trying to survive the current very difficult economic conditions in southern Europe.

“I suppose it is similar to the fuel situation, once local food production cannot compete, then not only will we be completely reliant on overseas countries for our food, the long term social impact on rural Australia will be disastrous,” she said.