Why are Centrifuge Decanters used for olive oil processing today instead of an Olive Press?

In this article I will discuss many facets involved with Olive Oil Production machinery and some considerations you need to take into account if you are looking to step into processing your own olive oil or simply want to know more about this field;



A new era of processing olive oil began in Australia with the first machine containing a stainless Centrifugal Decanter arriving in 1997, an important milestone for the Australian Olive Industry!

The machine which engineers had been trying to process for decades was now a reality to producing extra virgin olive oil in an efficient, hygienic and economical equipment.

This meant that any Olive Grower could now run the operations of olive harvesting, processing and bottling oil, with their own equipment or start a processing business to contract press other growers olive fruit.


So, why are Centrifugal Decanters used to make olive oil instead of Traditional Olive Presses?

During the 1960’s a new method of extracting oil was developed using centrifugal force. Because of its hygiene advantages, the efficiencies created by labour and the much-expanded capacity of the new system, it was considered the way of the future for processing olives into extra virgin olive oil.

Unfortunately, because of traditional thinking and the romance of the old oil presses, the changeover has been slow to the new centrifugal machinery.

Growers in Mediterranean countries had been accustomed to hauling their warm, often fermenting, sacks of olives to the local factory. They had been used to helping through the day with crushing fruit and the spreading of paste onto the circular mats. They were acquainted with the excitement of seeing water and oil squeeze through the mats by the huge hydraulic press… But today it is different.

Today, using the continuous flow extraction plants, the grower is asked to harvest the fruit and deliver it to the oil factory quickly (normally within 4 to 6 hours) to reduce overheating and fermentation problems. After arrival at the factory in hygienic vented plastic crates, the healthy fruit disappears into a hospital clean, stainless steel machine and then reappears at the other end as green or golden olive oil in excellent condition… No romance, no help in the process and no seeing the oil squeezed.

Owners of the traditional oil processing factories have been up in arms because the new system is far more cost-effective on labour and far superior hygienically, the cost of changing systems has been prohibitive.

For continuous flow olive oil extraction machines capable of processing around 1000 kg of olive fruit per hour today may cost around $350,000. Boutique olive growers who once wanted to produce the oil at an entry level have been excluded from using the latest technology because of the absence of smaller continuous flow machines. They too have been forced to use a smaller version of the labour-intensive traditional map press for cost around $30,000.


The great news is things have changed. The reality of a small to medium-scale olive oil processing machine which is reasonably priced, hygienic and continuous flow does exist with the Oliomio olive oil machines.

In 1997 the first olive oil extraction machine produced by the company Toscana Enologica Mori or Mori TEM was known as an Oliomio.  Since this time around 200 Oliomio olive oil extraction systems operate within Australia alone.


What is a Traditional Olive Press?

An old Traditional Olive Press was used to press the crushed cake from the stone mill. Water and oil exited and the oil was skimmed off the top. Source: Michael Bradley, Veronica's Fine Foods
An old Traditional Olive Press was used to press the crushed cake from the stone mill. Water and oil exited and the oil was skimmed off the top. Source: Michael Bradley, Veronica’s Fine Foods

Remains of olive oil have been found in jugs over 4,000 years old in a tomb on the island of Naxos in the Aegean Sea.  Olive Oil is an old world food which has benefited today from new machinery methods for extracting oil from fresh olives.  The process of extracting olive oil during ancient times was a very different and labour intensive process.  The type of equipment used to extract oil was an old stone mill, a series of mats and a donkey.

Here is a video of the traditional method of pressing:



Part 1 involves spreading the harvested olives and carting them in sacks in the heat.  The Olives are already partially shrivelled which means they have lost moisture and will be subjected to stress.  Not the most ideal conditions for obtaining a premium product:

Part 2 involves traditional pressing.  Shovelling the olives into the stone mill and using a donkey to turn the mill.  This was the traditional way of crushing.  Very labour intensive and as you can see the olives are exposed to the elements during the crushing phase.  A few hours more of the donkey going around and around in circles (I wonder if donkeys get dizzy?).  The olive paste (also known as cake) is bucketed and layered onto the mats which are then stacked into the pressed layer upon layer until the press is at capacity.  The press then squeezes the layers together and oozes the liquid (water and oil) to the tray at the bottom.  The oil will be later skimmed off with a jug and poured into a bucket.  As you can see this process is very labour intensive:


Comparing the old Traditional Press with the new Centrifugal Decanter system? 

See how olive oil is made today.  Here is a video to show the process of the new style Olive oil extraction machinery by National Geographic.  It is a great overview.


What does continuous flow vs batch olive oil processing mean?

Continuous flow as it suggests will continually feed olives into the machine and crush/mill, malax/mix and then keep feeding the paste into the decanter/centrifuge where you can collect the oil as long as you’ve got a continuous supply of olives to feed the machine.  The continuous flow is the most widely used throughout the commercial industry.  To prepare the first lot of olives for separation can take up to 1 hour after this time the feed will be continuous.

On the other hand, Batch olive oil processing means you will prepare a batch of olives, crush/mill, malax /mix then you will separate the paste in batches.  The equipment for batch processing is normally through a traditional press where you would apply the batch throughout the series of mats then squeeze them.  After the process has finished for the batch, then you need to start again.  The Spremoliva C30 in the Oliomio range is the only batch machine available outside of the traditional press equipment.


Who is Toscana Enologica Mori or MORI TEM?

Giorgio Mori, proprietor of Toscana Enologica Mori is the mastermind behind the brand Oliomio.  With the focus in mind to produce a small scale processing starting out as an Artisan company in 1974 led by Franco Mori who worked with his sons Giorgio and Andrea, producing the first winemaking equipment in a small shop in the centre town of Tavarnelle Val di Pesa in Italy.

In 1997 the first Oliomio 50 machine was installed into Australia and is now operated by the processing manager Les Searles in Western Australia.

The first Australian agency for the Oliomio machinery was signed by Ray & Delphine Archer of Olives Australia with subsidiary Olive Agencies which dealt with specialised olive equipment and machinery.  Through Olives Australia, Ray & Delphine Archer pioneers of the emerging Australian olive industry and in the year 2000 sold more than 1,000,000 trees in that year alone.  There are around 10,000,000 trees currently planted in Australia.

When Olives Australia closed its doors in 2003, Toscana Enologica Mori appointed The Olive Centre as their Sole Australian Agent in 2004 and still is the Sole Agent to current day.


What is an Oliomio Olive Oil Processing machine?

Oliomio is a well-respected leader in the olive oil processing sector.  The genuine Oliomio remains on the cutting edge of the latest technological advancements in innovation, quality, service and value for money.

Capacities of the Oliomio range start at 25kgs per hour through to 2T per hour.


What is a Barigelli Olive Oil Extraction production plant?

Barigelli Decanter is manufactured by Co.ri.Ma Group located near Jesi in Italy.  Corima pride themselves in the quality of manufacturing to the highest standards and using the best quality materials possible.  The Barigelli is made for the Commercial Producers.  Capacities of the Barigelli High-Performance Decanter range start at 500kgs per hour through to 9T per hour.


So what machine fits what applications when looking at setting up your own Processing Facility?

Some considerations when purchasing an Olive Oil machine;

  1. Are you processing for other growers in your area?
  2. Do you have any power restrictions?
  3. What is the size of the processing room you are looking to house your machine?


Are you processing for other growers in your area?

If you are looking to process the other olive growers in your region you may need to consult with them about the expected tonnages now and in the immediate future.  Also it is wise to look at how many varieties and the volume each of these varieties would produce.  Some olive varieties will take longer to process into olive oil whilst others will be fairly straightforward.


Do you have any power restrictions?

Do you have single or three-phase power?  Will you have enough power available for the size of the machine you require? Sometimes power can be a limiting factor to the size of processing machine you can ultimately run.  See more about power requirements; What if you haven’t got 2 phase power and need 3 phase?


What is the size of the processing room you are looking to house your machine?

A there are many options  of the types of machines within a same or similar throughput capacity, sometimes a particular arrangement of machine might suit your actual installation better. Let me explain;

Self-contained processing machines – also known as a monoblock olive oil machine usually consist of the feeding hopper, crusher/mill, malaxer/mixer, centrifuge and in some models you will find a waste pump.  These units are the most compact, so if space is a limiting factor for you, this is the machine of choice.  The self-contained processing machines range of up to around 200 kg per hour.


Modular machines offer several units or modules which are connected together to be able to offer the correct flow of the equipment in an olive oil processing line.  The modular machinery starts at about 150 kg per hour up to 10T per hour throughput capacity.


We are thankful to our Growers for allowing us to move into this exciting area of the industry and look forward to serving you in any way we are able.


Currently, more than 200 processors operate Oliomio machines in Australia and are having excellent results with turning their fresh olives into beautiful Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  This leads The Olive Centre as the major supplier of olive oil processing machinery into the Australian market.


So, between the Barigelli and Oliomio ranges of olive oil machinery, The Olive Centre is based in Australia and able to provide the most comprehensive set of machines and features for your every processing need.


If you are looking to process your own oil or upgrade your existing machinery, please contact us on 07 4696 9845 or email:  sales@theolivecentre.com.au


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