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Uruguay Inaugurates Breakthrough Lab for Olive Oil Evaluation

Aug. 24, 2010
Daniel Williams

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By Daniel Williams
Olive Oil Times Contributor | Reporting from Barcelona

Uruguayan University Inaugurates Breakthrough Sensorial Laboratory for Olive Oil Evaluation

The Department of Chemistry at the University of the Republic in Uruguay recently inau­gu­rated a Sensorial Evaluation Laboratory to ana­lyze native olive oils in order to achieve cer­ti­fi­ca­tion from the International Olive Oil Council. The project is sub­si­dized by the National Agency for Research and Innovation (ANII) and funds from the Program to Strengthen Scientific Services which pro­vide 80% of the money for the invest­ment, total­ing some $450,000.

Project direc­tor Maria Antonia Olivia Grompone spoke of the need for such cen­ters due to the grow­ing inci­dences of olive oil fraud through­out the world, some­thing many see as the result of falling mar­ket prices: Now when an oil is labeled as extra vir­gin, con­sumers need to be reas­sured that this label com­plies with the actual chem­i­cal makeup and taste of the oil.”[1]

University of the Republic (Uruguay)

In Uruguay, while the olive oil mar­ket remains rel­a­tively small, con­sump­tion is nonethe­less on the rise as con­sumers look to reap the nutri­tional ben­e­fits of olive oil which has been pub­li­cized as being the key ingre­di­ent in the health­ful Mediterranean diet. There are cur­rently about one hun­dred olive oil pro­duc­ers in Uruguay and indus­try experts pre­dict that within the next 4 to 5 years, there will be enough Uruguayan olive oil to both sat­isfy inter­nal demands and for export to other mar­kets.

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In order to make these exports prof­itable, how­ever, it is nec­es­sary to secure a high added value for the Uruguayan olive oil, some­thing achieved by receiv­ing cer­ti­fi­ca­tions from the International Olive Oil Council: the multi­na­tional agency influ­en­tial in the mar­ket­ing and reg­u­la­tion of olive oils on the world mar­ket. To ensure that the Uruguayan olive oil meets these cri­te­ria, the project will also fund a tast­ing panel accus­tomed to the sen­sory qual­i­ties nec­es­sary for inter­na­tional cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

Grompone

Ms. Gompone stated that Uruguayan olive oil has the poten­tial to be highly prof­itable and sought after as it offers the same qual­i­ties as other imported olive oils at more afford­able prices. She claims that fur­ther pub­lic edu­ca­tion is nec­es­sary to make con­sumers more aware of the health­ful prop­er­ties of olive oil con­sump­tion as well as the long term ben­e­fits of con­tin­ued state invest­ments in the indus­try: At the moment we are ana­lyz­ing var­i­ous olive trees to deter­mine which adapt best to var­i­ous soils and cli­mates through­out dif­fer­ent zones of the coun­try and we now boast the only plant in Uruguay which allows pro­duc­ers to take small amounts of olive oil and deter­mine the product’s char­ac­ter­is­tics and mix­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties with other oils.“1

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[1] Se inau­guró Laboratorio de Evaluación Sensorial para Aceites de Oliva” August 24, 2010.

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