Australian olive producer to debut leaf extracts in US
Boundary Bend Wellness, which operates vast, mechanized groves in southeast Australia’s Murray River Valley, is debuting a line of olive leaf extracts standardized to different levels of oleuropein, one of the bitter marker chemicals in the leaf (it’s also present in the fruit but is removed in processing to make table olives palatable).
Standardizing the product
The mechanization story is part of the ingredient’s value positioning. Boundary Bend can offer a truly standardized product, which technical director Leandro Ravetti said other olive producers struggle to do. In the Mediterranean, for example, millions of small farmers sell their products through co-ops and third-party distributors, making full vertical integration and standardization nearly impossible.
But Boundary Bend’s orchards were planted in 1999 with the aim toward having a standardized product. The company now claims to produce about 70% of the olive oil consumed in Australia.
While some orchards in Southern Europe like to tout the age of the trees (some are hundreds of years old), Ravetti said the characteristics of the trees don’t differ significantly after they reach maturity. What really determines the quality and longevity of a mechanized orchard is how long you can maintain the optimum productivity of the trees. Ravetti puts that timeline at 30 to 40 years.
“Once trees reach full maturity (approximately in 6 to 7 years), the bioactive content of the leaves is approximately the same. Rather than being influenced by the age of the tree, management and environment play a much more important role in shaping up the bioactive profile of the product,” Ravetti told NutraIngredients-USA.
Ravetti said the company’s new extracts, which are branded as olefresh 4000, olefresh 5000 and olefresh 6000 for different concentrations, is the fact that they are made from fresh leaves. Most other producers used dried leaves, he said.
“The main bioactive components of olive leaf extracts are natural antioxidants. The process of drying leaves and extracting those components later on is detrimental to the concentration and diversity of those products. Fresh leaves contain the highest quantity and diversity of bioactive components. Harvesting and processing them over a very short period of time helps in capturing that richness and diversity,” Ravetti said.
Best quality leaves yield best extracts
In addition, Ravetti said Boundary Bend only takes leaves from trees that are actively setting fruit. He maintained that this is not standard practice in the industry, where a leaf is a leaf.
“When you have an unhealthy plant that isn’t producing fruit, you aren’t getting all of the awesome biphenols that naturally occur in a healthy fruit bearing tree. This has been proven many times over in molecular level competitive testing against all available olive extracts on the market currently,” he said.
“We treat our trees with extreme care in order to produce the best quality fruit, and this is also true for the leaves. High levels of management technology applied to the growing of the olives and the leaves allow for consistent levels of bioactive components and full traceability of each batch to the trees that we have picked to produce it,” Ravetti added.
The company touts its branch to bottle approach. Ravetti said the extracts are produced in its own facility in Australia and are TGA compliant.
Boundary Bend is marketing the olive leaf extracts mostly on their antioxidant capacity, though Ravetti does point in general to the reams of research on the health benefits of olive ingredients. There is more focused research on the specific ingredients within the leaves, such as oleuropein and hydroxytyrosol. These include recent studies on possible blood sugar management effects and benefits in reducing insulin resistance.