`Quality is Key for Uruguay’s Growing Olive Oil Sector - Olive Oil Times

Quality is Key for Uruguay’s Growing Olive Oil Sector

Nov. 16, 2012
Charlie Higgins

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With expand­ing pro­duc­tion and inter­na­tional recog­ni­tion, Uruguay’s emerg­ing olive oil sec­tor has seen steady growth since 2002, and this year is no excep­tion.

Brazil alone could absorb 100 per­cent of Uruguayan pro­duc­tion- Alberto Peverelli
Asociación Olivícola del Uruguay

Reports indi­cate that the tiny agrar­ian coun­try will pro­duce around 550,000 liters this year, qua­dru­pling last year’s fig­ures. It is pre­dicted that Uruguay will pro­duce upwards of 10 mil­lion liters annu­ally by 2020.

Surface area for olive cul­ti­va­tion is also see­ing expo­nen­tial growth. According to La Red 21, the coun­try is adding on aver­age 1,000 hectares annu­ally, 95 per­cent of which is ded­i­cated to olive oil pro­duc­tion.

This spec­tac­u­lar growth is largely due to increas­ing for­eign and national invest­ment in the indus­try, which expe­ri­enced renewed fer­vor fol­low­ing 2002’s eco­nomic cri­sis. Over US$50 mil­lion have been invested in the indus­try in the last decade, and next year four addi­tional olive oil extrac­tion plants will be added to the 16 already in oper­a­tion.

“[Investors] were look­ing for alter­na­tives to goods being pro­duced in Uruguay at that time. The demand for healthy foods had been grow­ing world­wide for decades, and olive oil was viewed as a pos­si­bil­ity for some of these investor groups,” said Alberto Peverelli, vice pres­i­dent of the Asociación Olivícola del Uruguay (Asolur), in an inter­view with En Perspectiva.

Despite this rapid growth in vol­ume, Uruguay is by no means a major pro­ducer, even when com­pared to other coun­tries in the region. Argentina cur­rently ded­i­cates over 100,000 hectares to olive pro­duc­tion.

In order to com­pete in the inter­na­tional mar­ket, Uruguayan pro­duc­ers have cho­sen to focus on qual­ity instead of quan­tity.


The qual­ity fac­tor is key. Uruguay, despite pro­duc­ing the quan­ti­ties that we are talk­ing about here, is not a coun­try that can com­pete inter­na­tion­ally in terms of vol­ume, so we must aim for qual­ity. It is very impor­tant to con­tinue work­ing on that aspect,” Peverelli said.

Although domes­tic con­sump­tion remains rel­a­tively high for the region, with the aver­age Uruguayan con­sum­ing around 400 grams annnu­ally, exports remain a top pri­or­ity for the indus­try, with spe­cial sta­tus allo­cated to Brazil.

We’ve been able to access mar­kets in Europe and the U.S. but we know that the future is Brazil and the United States. Brazil is par­tic­u­larly impor­tant due to its prox­im­ity and logis­ti­cal ease. Brazil alone could absorb 100 per­cent of Uruguayan pro­duc­tion.”


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