Following a steady trend led by its booming wine market, Chile’s olive oil industry significantly expanded its reach last year, according to statistics released by the national Office of Agricultural Studies and Policies (ODEPA). The total value of Chilean olive oil exports reached $1.1 million in January 2011, representing an increase of 139 percent over numbers recorded in January of last year.
“The increase in olive oil exports is due to a number of diverse reasons,” reflected Gustavo Rojas, director of the Office of Agricultural Studies and Policies, or ODEPA. “Among them are the integration of traders and producers, the opening of new markets and the success of joint marketing campaigns lead by Chileoliva and Prochile, particularly in the United States and Brazil.”
The main countries that bought Chilean olive oil last year represent five continents. According to reports published by the ministry of the interior, the big consumers last year were the United States (49%), Italy (27%), Canada (14%), Brazil (2%), Japan (2%), China (1%), South Korea (1%), Cameroon (1%), Colombia (1%) and Taiwan (1%).
In terms of volume, Chile exported an estimated 286 tons of olive oil in January 2011, a 226 percent increase over exports in the same month of the previous year.
Although Chile’s national olive oil industry has been active since 1952, it wasn’t until the late 90s that the country began to invest heavily in this sector and develop marketing strategies for exportation. By 2004 Chile had developed a total of 3,700 hectares olive-growing land and built 20 mills producing upwards of 1,500 tons of extra virgin oil per year. Today Chile boasts over 20,000 hectares of olive-growing land and produces roughly 8,500 tons of oil per year. Chile is expected to have over 35,000 hectares of olive vineyards by the year 2014.
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Chilean oil has become well known around the world for its quality, and the country produces extra virgin oil exclusively. In recent years Chilean olive oils have racked up awards in internationally recognized olive oil competitions throughout Italy, Spain and the United States.