By Sarah Schwager
Olive Oil Times Contributor | Reporting from Buenos Aires
An Argentinean olive-growing region is attempting to promote its produce and boost exports, while also distinguishing it from imported goods, by labeling locally made products.
Pocito, a department of the San Juan province, which is famous for its olive oil and wine, will attach a special identification label to local products that qualify, with the first phase to be rolled out to producers of grapes, tomatoes, garlic, onion, olives and all their derivatives.
More than 2000 agricultural producers and packers, 30 wineries and more than a dozen agribusinesses may qualify for this label.
The project came about after 30% of respondents in a 2008 survey of the production situation in the horticulture, olive and wine industries expressed a lack of action by the department in promoting production and export supply. Industry producers and entrepreneurs also moved to urgently address urban growth.
Pocito Mayor Sergio Uñac said local product certification will help promote the positioning of agro-industrial products, expand local companies in the global economy and, by improving business, help the department as well.
“That then generates greater employment in the workforce, a better social situation and better education,” Dr. Uñac said.
He said the decision to label local products, along with the design of the project, was made by the entire Pocito community through a strategic plan presented last year.
Argentinean olive oil production has grown significantly over recent years but it is still dwarfed by the massive European industry. The San Juan department hopes this initiative will help endorse Argentina’s industry and ensure its products are recognized across the world.
The certification of origin also means qualifying producers can apply for a 50% discount on council taxes on commercial and industrial properties and services. Such certification can also be used to claim special concession on any import duties charged. To qualify for the label, at least 50% of the workforce of the company must be located in Pocito. This is designed to increase employment in the department.
Head of the Local Economic Development Agency Andrés Díaz Cano said there is already a significant number of companies that now want to establish their industries in the department. “Having planned development in this decade and provided legal support for the relevant regulation has generated an excellent investment climate in the municipality,” he said.
The municipality has registered the Pocito Product brand with the National Institute of Industrial Property and is now responsible for promoting the commercial logo.
 Diario de Cuyo