` Brazilian Olive Oil Imports Continue Boom

S. America

Brazilian Olive Oil Imports Continue Boom

Jan. 12, 2014
By Charlie Higgins

Recent News

Sal­vador de Bahia, Brazil

With World Cup fer­vor quickly esca­lat­ing and an impor­tant pres­i­den­tial elec­tion on the hori­zon, it seems all eyes will be on Brazil in 2014, the olive oil indus­try included. Latin America’s eco­nomic pow­er­house has become one of the fastest-grow­ing export des­ti­na­tions for olive oil, and last year imports of the green gold reached 74,873.8 met­ric tons, up 5 per­cent from the 2011 – 2012 sea­son.

Accord­ing to the Inter­na­tional Olive Oil Coun­cil (IOC), EU coun­tries rep­re­sented 88 per­cent of these exports. Por­tu­gal, which shipped 42,800 mt to Brazil last year, enjoyed the biggest slice of the pie (57 per­cent), fol­lowed by Spain (25 per­cent), Italy (6 per­cent) and Greece (1 per­cent). 12 per­cent of imports were from Argentina (9 per­cent), Chile (2 per­cent) and mis­cel­la­neous coun­tries (1 per­cent).

This last group, which includes Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia, saw some of the biggest growth last year. Lebanon, for exam­ple, exported 372 per­cent more olive oil to Brazil, while Tunisia’s exports were up 98 per­cent.

Brazil’s demand for vir­gin grade olive oil has grown steadily in recent years. In 2002 – 2003, roughly 39 per­cent of olive oil imports were of vir­gin grade; by 2012 – 2013 that per­cent­age grew to 73 per­cent.

The coun­try has made a con­certed effort recently to increase con­sump­tion of olive oil in gen­eral, regard­less of the coun­try of ori­gin. With the help of the IOC, Brazil launched a national olive oil pro­mo­tional cam­paign in Octo­ber with a pro­posed bud­get of $1.6 mil­lion.

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Though still in its infancy, domes­tic pro­duc­tion has also taken off in recent years. The bulk of this growth is occur­ring in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, which enjoys a sim­i­lar cli­mate and soil type to neigh­bor­ing Uruguay, another coun­try with tremen­dous poten­tial as an olive oil pro­ducer and exporter.

Accord­ing to Rogério Oliveira Jorge, a researcher at the Brazil­ian Agri­cul­tural Research Cor­po­ra­tion (Embrapa), the soil pro­duc­tiv­ity in Rio Grande do Sul is com­pa­ra­ble to that of Euro­pean coun­tries, gen­er­at­ing around 1,500 liters per hectare. He acknowl­edged, how­ever, that the major­ity of the olive trees are quite young and won’t reach their full poten­tial for a few years.

Even the Brazil­ian gov­ern­ment is bet­ting on national pro­duc­tion, includ­ing funds for the sec­tor in last year’s Crop Plan. It has also agreed to col­lab­o­rate with Embrapa in the devel­op­ment of a qual­ity test­ing lab that will adhere to inter­na­tional stan­dards.

Oli­vas do Sul

Accord­ing to Caio Rocha of the Agri­cul­tural Devel­op­ment and Coop­er­a­tive depart­ment at the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture, Live­stock and Food Sup­ply, Brazil plans to reduce olive oil imports by 30 per­cent in four years by becom­ing more self-reliant. He said the steady growth of the import mar­ket proves the demand is there.

We are great importers of olive oil. We import $316 mil­lion in olive oil, $121 mil­lion in olives and the south­ern region has appro­pri­ate cli­mate and soil for cul­ti­va­tion of olives,” Rocha said.

Daniel Aued of Oli­vas do Sul, one of Brazil’s lead­ing pro­duc­ers of extra vir­gin olive oil, is con­fi­dent in the qual­ity of oils pro­duced in Rio Grande do Sul, where his com­pany pro­duced 22,000 liters in 2012. He believes Brazil­ian oils can com­pete with imported oils, which ben­e­fit from low prices and mar­ket­ing, by empha­siz­ing qual­ity and fresh­ness.

“[Imported oil] spends three to four years in drums, whereas good olive oilshould be con­sumed in the year of the crop,” he said.


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