Business

Plans Stall for Buenos Aires 'Quality Stamp'

Researchers found that a regional mark to identify local olive oils would add value, but a lack of cooperation among producers has led to inaction.

Olivares La Reconquista
Sep. 9, 2019
By Mónica Correa
Olivares La Reconquista

Recent News

Olive oil pro­duc­ers in the province of Buenos Aires have stalled in an effort to create a stamp of qual­ity — sim­i­lar to a Protected Designation of Origin — which would iden­tify locally pro­duced extra virgin olive oil and poten­tially increase the price at which it is sold.

According to Lorena Tedesco, a pro­fes­sor of eco­nom­ics at the National University of the South (UNS) who worked on the project, a lack of orga­ni­za­tion from the province’s South Chamber of Oliviculture has led to the inac­tion.

(The goal was to) give pro­duc­ers the tools to eval­u­ate and give them guid­ance in their busi­ness strate­gies.- Beatriz Lupin, an eco­nom­ics pro­fes­sor at the National University of Mar de Plata

After Tedesco and her col­leagues helped research the issue and pro­vided advice and guid­ance to the pro­duc­ers, she told Olive Oil Times that it would ulti­mately be up to them to imple­ment and orga­nize the pro­gram.

Most of the olive oil pro­duc­tion in Buenos Aires takes place in the south­west of the province, which is located in the semi-arid and sub-humid Pampas.

See more: Olive Oil Producers in Argentina Hope to Follow Malbecs Lead

Due to the com­bi­na­tion of the province’s cli­mate and geog­ra­phy along with a lack of invest­ment in the sector, a rel­a­tively small amount of olive oil pro­duc­tion takes place in Buenos Aires. In spite of all of this, Mario Fernandez, a local pro­ducer and former pres­i­dent of the South Chamber of Oliviculture, said that 2019 had been a good year for local pro­duc­ers, both in terms of qual­ity and quan­tity.

Advertisement

He said the region pro­duced about 1,250 tons or about three per­cent of Argentina’s total pro­duc­tion in 2019.

However, what the province lacks in quan­tity, experts believe it makes up with qual­ity.

Olivares La Reconquista

According to research from Susana Picardi, a pro­fes­sor at UNS, the prox­im­ity to the ocean, cold win­ters and ther­mal ampli­tude favor the slow ripen­ing of the olives, which leads to a high phe­no­lic con­tent and a high pro­por­tion of oleic acid in the result­ing oil.

Advertisement

Data like that led to the idea that a locally-pro­duced olive oil could com­mand a higher price than the others shar­ing super­mar­ket shelves.

See more: Argentina’s Best Olive Oils

Beatriz Lupin, an eco­nom­ics pro­fes­sor at the National University of Mar de Plata who worked on the effort to create the stamp, told Olive Oil Times the goal of the project was to “give pro­duc­ers the tools to eval­u­ate and give them guid­ance in their busi­ness strate­gies.”

Advertisement

A study con­ducted by Lupin and her research team in 2017 found that 55 per­cent of the par­tic­i­pants said that they would be will­ing to pay up to 50 per­cent more for a bottle of extra virgin olive oil with the local stamp of qual­ity.

From that point, it has been up to the South Chamber of Oliviculture to orga­nize and begin imple­ment­ing the plan. According to Tedesco, this will be an uphill battle.

A het­ero­ge­neous qual­ity of the oils pro­duced in Buenos Aires and the prac­tice of mixing local oils with those from other regions are two of the chal­lenges facing pro­duc­ers and the Chamber in the imple­men­ta­tion of the plan.

There are smaller chal­lenges, too, mostly to do with a lack of orga­ni­za­tion and coop­er­a­tion among pro­duc­ers.

However, Tedesco pointed out that the ground remains fer­tile for the cre­ation of a local qual­ity stamp. Demand for high-qual­ity and locally-pro­duced prod­ucts is grow­ing in the province and, she believes, there is an oppor­tu­nity for local farm­ers and pro­duc­ers to profit.