Heavy Rains Don't Dampen Enthusiasm of Argentina's Olive Oil Exporters

Recent floods have mostly spared Argentina's olive plantations as producers and exporters remain upbeat about the sector's potential.

Nov. 10, 2017
By Daniel Dawson

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Unusually heavy rain­fall has damp­ened much of Argentina’s agri­cul­tural sec­tor. However, olives have been spared and the pit­ted fruit tra­di­tion­ally asso­ci­ated with the Mediterranean is thriv­ing.

If pro­duc­ers and man­u­fac­tur­ers work together sup­port­ing the Arauco vari­ety, we could gain world­wide atten­tion for the prod­uct.- Luis Javier Magalnik, Califruit

Very few olive plan­ta­tions have been affected by the flood­ing,” said Luis Javier Magalnik, an olive pro­ducer and packer at Califruit. The pro­duc­tion zones of olives in Argentina are in regions that are gen­er­ally dry.”

Meanwhile, unprece­dented rain­fall on the Pampas, Buenos Aires, Santa Fe and Cordoba has left five to 10 mil­lion hectares of tra­di­tion­ally pro­duc­tive crop­land com­pletely water­logged.
See Also: More on Argentina Olive Oil Production
Esteban Copati, the head of crop esti­mates at the Buenos Aires Grain Exchange, said at least 650,000 hectares may go unplanted. Whether the rest will dry in time for plant­ing is still unknown.

However, the future of a less tra­di­tional crop is look­ing bright. Olive oil has already expe­ri­enced a record growth in both qual­ity and quan­tity. Olive pro­duc­ers, as well as those at the Ministry of Agriculture, are opti­mistic that they can keep the trend mov­ing upwards.

We are expect­ing to add to regional devel­op­ment, espe­cially for olive pro­duc­tion,” said Nestor Roulet, sec­re­tary of added value at the Argentinian Ministry of Agriculture. Argentina could still add 20 per­cent more value to olive oil exports this year.”

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The Department of Agriculture reported that in the first seven months of 2017, export val­ues had increased in value by 117 per­cent.

Frankie Gobbee, CEO and co-founder of the Argentina Olive Group, believes the qual­ity of olive oil could be fur­ther improved to com­pete with lead­ing European olive oil pro­duc­ers.

Argentina has more than 120,000 hectares ded­i­cated to olives and exports more than 89 per­cent of those as extra vir­gin olive oil,” said Gobbee. We could demon­strate that the extra vir­gin oil from Argentina is equal to or bet­ter than that of many European coun­tries. We have the genet­ics of European olives with bet­ter agri­cul­tural tech­niques and nat­ural resources.”

Argentine olive oil export vol­umes have increased by 93 per­cent com­pared with the same period last year.

Magalnik at Califruit shares the opti­mism about olive oil’s poten­tial. However, he said empha­sis must be on cul­ti­vat­ing and devel­op­ing unique prod­ucts.

There is great poten­tial for the Arauco vari­ety of extra vir­gin olive oil, which is unique to Argentina,” he said. If olive pro­duc­ers and olive oil man­u­fac­tur­ers work together sup­port­ing the Arauco vari­ety, it would be pos­si­ble to gain world­wide atten­tion for the prod­uct.”


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He argued that right now Argentina has the per­fect cli­mate and tech­nol­ogy to pro­duce high-qual­ity olive oil.

Climate sci­en­tists have pre­dicted heat waves for the upcom­ing sum­mer across Argentina. These pre­dic­tions have made Magalnik wary, but not wor­ried.

Too much hot, dry air could neg­a­tively impact pol­li­na­tion and con­se­quently lower pro­duc­tion,” he said. Until now, though, it seems like the most pro­duc­tive olive-pro­duc­ing regions have not had this prob­lem.”

However, for Gobbee cli­mate is not the con­cern, inad­e­quate infra­struc­ture is. He said this and pro­duc­tion logis­tics must be improved in order to strike a bal­ance between the grow­ing demand for olive oil and its pro­duc­tion.

Argentina is not yet a major pro­ducer of olive oil because it does not have large enough refin­ing indus­tries,” he said. The olive plan­ta­tions are more than 1,200 km away from the ports. We need to lower the logis­tics costs or pack­age the olive oil in the ports instead of the plan­ta­tions.”

In spite of these grow­ing pains, Argentina is now the largest exporter of vir­gin olive oil in South America and the eighth largest in the world.





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