Connecting Geelong’s manufacturers

December 14, 2022

At the final GMC Connect for the year (& AGM), members & guests were treated to an “In Conversation” with Rob McGavin, Co-founder & Chair of Cobram Estate Olives Limited.

McGavin shared the business’ origin story (he and friend Paul Riordan founded the company in 1998 following their time together at Marcus Oldham College), along with the challenges and triumphs faced in establishing Australia’s number one extra virgin olive oil brand, and significant global olive oil sales.

It wasn’t always plain sailing, and a good dose of resilience, fortitude and well considered decision making have underpinned the company’s success, according to McGavin.

“If it’s a good idea today, it’ll be a good idea tomorrow,” he said.

Cobram Estate Olives’ Heales Road, Lara head office belies the company’s global presence. Listing publicly on the ASX in August 2021, Cobram Estate Olives is Australia’s largest olive farmer with a planted grove area of 6,584 hectares (over 2.4 million olive trees) that produced an estimated 71% of Australia’s total olive oil production in 2021. In the USA, the company’s groves total 149,000 trees planted on 305 hectares of owned and leased land in California.

At current count, it exports to a further 16 countries including New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, and Malaysia.

The company also owns three olive mills (two in Australia and one in USA), Australia’s largest olive tree nursery, two bottling and storage facilities, 18.4 million litres of olive oil storage capacity (Australia and USA), and one of the world’s leading olive R&D and testing laboratories – Modern Olives.

Innovation has been an integral part of Cobram Estate Olives’ success, with a 27 peer reviewed research papers published by the organisation’s in-house research and development team, and a number of industry innovations that help maintain market leader advantage.

Following the meeting formalities, GMC members enjoyed the opportunity to network and connect.