By Sarah Schwager
Olive Oil Times Contributor | Reporting from Buenos Aires
An increase in olive oil imports in Peru could severely affect the national industry, according to the country’s Pro Olivo Association.
The private organization, which represents 90% of Peru’s olive exports and all of the nation’s olive oil producers’ derivatives, says local producers are very concerned about the effect that the emergence of subsidized Spanish olive oil onto the Peruvian market will have on them.
The Association is applying to Peru’s National Institution for Competition Defense and Intellectual Property Protection (Indecopi) for an extension of
countervailing duties on Spanish olive oil imports.
Pro Olivo Association General Manager Edgard Salas told Agro Negocios Peru that without para-tariff barriers, imports have shot up since 2008. He says this could lead to the closure of new processing plants recently set up in the South American nation.
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He hopes proposed investments in 400 hectares of olive groves, and potentially up to 1000 hectares, in the south of Peru could put a halt to subsidized olive oil imports.
Peru’s olive industry is small even in comparison with those countries considered to be low producers. The country holds 9,500 hectares of olive groves (23,500 acres), 7,500 of which produce olive oil. There are only four or five Peruvian companies that are big enough to be able to sell olive oil at a national level.
Yet Pro Olive Association Founder Alfredo Gonzalez says imports have grown from 8,000 liters of olive oil to 29,000 liters in just two years, with Peruvian olive oil exports increasing 32% last year compared to 2008 and again 134% in the first half of this year, while volume grew 53%.
This is largely thanks to the high quality of the olive oil, which is said to contain very few preservatives, with Peruvian producers continually working to better the quality by reducing the degree of free fatty acidity in the oil.
Increased demand from Canada, Japan and Colombia contributed to the rise as well as the introduction of Peruvian olive oil into the Australian market.
The issue of subsidized imports was quelled mid-last year when Indecopi launched an investigation to determine whether Spain and Italy should be imposed countervailing duties on olive oil imports.
The Pro Olivo Association says an extension of the surcharge is justified as it has already demonstrated to Indecopi that Spanish olive oil is subsidized, but says so far it has not received a response.
“Every time we sell less olive oil on the Peruvian market, it affects Peru’s olive oil industry, which is concentrated in Tacna (a region located in southern Peru),” Mr. Gonzalez said.