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By Ashley Dowell

The 2017 EOPAA Symposium / AGM was held on Wednesday November 8th at the Gold Coast Campus of Southern Cross University (SCU).
The meeting was attended by 25 Full, Associate and Honorary members of EOPAA.

The first speaker, Dr. Kevin Glencross, Research Fellow from the Institute for Innovative Agriculture at SCU talked about Australian research, development and market opportunities in sandalwood and emerging traditional essential oil crops in the Pacific.
The second speaker, Mr. Todd Layt, Founder & Director of Ozbreed Pty Ltd talked about breeding herbs and shrubs to improve essential quality and yield and emphasised the value of attaining plant breeders rights (PBR) for new varieties of essential oil bearing plants.
The third speaker, Dr. Dhanushka Hettiarachichi, Research Officer from Wescorp Pty Ltd talked about the Australian Sandalwood industry including the benefits and challenges of working in Sandalwood oil production.
The final Speaker for the day, Mr. Ashley Dowell, Manager of the Analytical Research Laboratory (ARL) at SCU talked about factors which influence essential oil yield and composition with a focus on work conducted by his group looking at distillation kinetics of Tea Tree Oil and Lavender oil. Ashley also provided a brief overview of techniques employed for quality testing of essential oils and stressed the importance of developing industry standards for emerging essential oils.

The 2017 EOPAA AGM commenced in the afternoon session with a review of the 2016 minutes and a brief discussion of outcomes to 2016 action items. This was followed by a formal address from the outgoing President Mr. Richard Davis and Secretary’s report from Ashley Dowell.

The first Agenda item was election of a new EOPAA committee and president. Dee-Ann Prather from Down Under Enterprises Pty Ltd was elected as the new president of EOPAA. Two new committee members were elected (Robyn Easson from Jenbrook Pty Ltd and Kerry Ferguson from Botanical Innovations) and 3 existing committee members were re-elected (Richard Davis from G R Davis, Henry Minson from Felton Grimwade & Bositos Pty Ltd and David Johnson from Native Oils Australia).

The second Agenda item looked at the EOPAA standards programme. There was significant discussion about the merits and challenges of putting together industry specifications for emerging Australian essential oils. While there was general agreement to the benefit of industry specs to facilitate trade a number of members voiced concerns about being too prescriptive given the degree of chemotypic variation present in wild populations and the uncertainty about consumer preference for emerging oils. In conclusion, the discussion confirmed that EOPAA essential oil standards should be broad, general and inclusive with a focus on being a guideline rather than a regulatory compliance document.

Essential oils considered for inclusion in the programme are:

  • Melaleuca ericifolia
  • Melaleuca quinquenervia
  • Leptospermum petersonii
  • Leptospermum scoparium
  • Eremophila mitchellii
  • Kunzea ambigua
  • Kunzea ericoides
  • Santalum spicatum
  • Santalum lanceolatum
  • Eucalyptus staigeriana
  • Callitris intratropica
  • Callitris columellaris
  • Prosthanthera melissifolia

The second agenda item considered was EOPAA Governance. Ashley Dowell conveyed the proposal from SCU to establish a discounting arrangement for EOPAA members submitting oils for analysis to ARL, to be allocated to a joint research fund between the two groups. This is similar to an existing arrangement that SCU has with the Australian Tea Tree Industry Association (ATTIA).  Before this can be done, SCU Research staff have requested that the EOPAA governance documentation (i.e. constitution) be reviewed and amended to provide clearer governance guidelines. Paul Bolster from P. Guinane Pty Ltd has offered to assist with this objective.

Further discussion items included:

  • IFEAT – can Australia host this? Is it worth sending an EOPAA representative annually? There was general agreement for Australia to consider hosting IFEAT in the future and a definitive “no” to the merit of sending an EOPAA representative annually.
  • Allergens – consistent documentation for each oil, SDS, allergen statements and IFRA statements.
  • Microbiological activity data for Australian essential oils.

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