Olive groves in La Rioja (Olive Oil Times archives)

Solfrut, an agri­cul­tural com­pany, and the gov­ern­ment of the San Juan province in Argentina have teamed up to invest $14 mil­lion in the company’s plant, which will be the largest in South America upon its com­ple­tion.

The plant will be respon­si­ble for bot­tling 30 per­cent of the olive oil that is con­sumed in Argentina as well as bot­tling olive oil des­tined for export to Brazil.

It is, with­out a doubt, the most impor­tant plant in all of Latin America.- José Chediack, pres­i­dent of Solfrut’s par­ent com­pany

The project, which has been divided up into three phases, will be com­pleted by 2021. The first phase is set to be fin­ished up by June when the stor­age capac­ity of the plant will be increased to 2,000 tons. At the end of the process, even larger stor­age tanks will be installed.

“It will be the largest plant in Latin America,” José Chediack, the pres­i­dent of Solfrut’s par­ent com­pany, said “[When it is com­pleted], it will have a capac­ity of 4,000 tons.”

See more: South American Business News

The sec­ond phase includes ren­o­vat­ing the mill in order to mod­ern­ize all of the equip­ment and is expected to be done in time for the 2020 har­vest. The third phase will be the mod­ern­iza­tion and enlarge­ment of the bot­tling sec­tion of the plant.

“The idea is to invest in San Juan and that it serves the growth and devel­op­ment of the province,” Chediack said. “It is, with­out a doubt, the most impor­tant plant in all of Latin America.”

“From here, in San Juan, we will process olive oil for our super­mar­kets,” he added. “This is work for peo­ple from San Juan and it is very impor­tant.”

Currently, the plant employs 200 peo­ple and once the three-phase expan­sion is com­plete, Solfrut expects to increase the work­force by 15 per­cent.

Various gov­ern­ment offi­cials attended the ground­break­ing cer­e­mony.

Sergio Uñac, the province’s gov­er­nor, and Mario Martín, the local mayor, both told atten­dees of the cer­e­mony that they expect the project to gen­er­ate well-pay­ing jobs that will ben­e­fit the province’s econ­omy.

Uñac said that he sees olive cul­ti­va­tion and olive oil pro­duc­tion as a sus­tain­able invest­ment for both the province and the rest of the coun­try. He hopes that these kinds of invest­ments can help increase Argentina’s olive oil exports as well as spur domes­tic con­sump­tion.

“This is the way for­ward, not only in the province but also in the coun­try,” he said. “We under­stand that we have to talk more about pro­duc­tion, con­sump­tion, and exports, but first reac­ti­vat­ing the inter­nal mar­ket, that is the most impor­tant thing.”

A lack of ade­quate infra­struc­ture sur­round­ing olive oil pro­duc­tion is one of the biggest chal­lenges that Argentina faces as it con­tin­ues to grow the sec­tor. Several promi­nent mem­bers of Argentina’s olive oil indus­try told Olive Oil Times that expand­ing the plant is a step in the right direc­tion.




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