`In Argentina, a Push to Make Olive Oil a 'National Food' - Olive Oil Times

In Argentina, a Push to Make Olive Oil a 'National Food'

Oct. 14, 2012
Charlie Higgins

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Argentina has long been one of Latin America’s top olive oil pro­duc­ing coun­tries, with over US$30 mil­lion in exports recorded dur­ing the first trimester of 2011 alone. But despite strong num­bers abroad, domes­tic con­sump­tion remains pal­try in com­par­i­son. The aver­age Argentine con­sumes just 125 grams annu­ally, accord­ing to El Sol.

Industry rep­re­sen­ta­tives in the north­west province of La Rioja are now try­ing to change this with an effort to put more bot­tles of olive oil on Argentine din­ner tables across the socioe­co­nomic spec­trum.

A new bill pre­sented by Kirchnerist deputy Javier Tineo aims to enhance the dis­sem­i­na­tion” of olive oil and increase its con­sump­tion and pro­duc­tion on the national level. The bill pro­poses that olive oil be labeled a national food,” to join the ranks of beef, dulce de leche, empanadas and other foods found in vir­tu­ally any Argentine house­hold.

Javier Tineo

More than any­thing, the ini­tia­tive would aim to change the per­cep­tion of olive oil in a cul­ture that gen­er­ally views it as an elite prod­uct con­sumed only by the wealthy. Supporters of the bill say that an effec­tive cam­paign would raise con­sump­tion and help stim­u­late regional economies.

The mar­ket has been fac­ing pres­sure recently to boost inter­nal sales due to increas­ing export restric­tions, par­tic­u­larly to its main buyer Brazil. Falling inter­na­tional prices and ris­ing pro­duc­tion costs have only added to the woes.

Due to suc­ces­sive crises, invest­ment in the sec­tor has slowed and many farms have stopped expand­ing for finan­cial rea­sons, low com­pet­i­tive­ness and low prices inter­na­tion­ally, all of which have eroded the inte­gral prof­itabil­ity of invest­ment projects,” said Tineo.

The plan, Tineo added, must be accom­pa­nied by pub­lic poli­cies that encour­age both pri­mary pro­duc­tion and indus­tri­al­iza­tion of olives in their two main vari­ants: table (or pre­served olives) and olive oil.”

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