Monteolivo (Toutes les photos de Carola Dummer Medina)

Less fruit, but bet­ter qual­ity. This is how some Chilean pro­duc­ers sum­ma­rize the 2019 har­vest. A cam­paign that started slowly in mid-April, but now runs at full speed, while the first inter­na­tional awards crown the efforts of sev­eral com­pa­nies that are com­mit­ted to qual­ity.

In 2019, the chal­lenge is to con­tinue posi­tion­ing our­selves as one of the best oils in the world.- Diego Livingstone, Alonso

In the south, the har­vest of olive trees is at its height. Double shifts of work­ers col­lect the olives at their opti­mum point of mat­u­ra­tion and green oil leaves the decanter with the strength of youth. Chile con­tin­ues to be one of the “newest” pro­duc­ers. Fifteen years do not com­pare to the thou­sands of the other side of the world.

Voir plus: The Best Olive Oils from Chile

The first oil mills began to work at the begin­ning of April, although only in the mid­dle of that month did the 2019 cam­paign offi­cially begin. Last year, this South American coun­try pro­duced 22,000 tons of olive oil, and more than 90 per­cent cor­re­sponded to the extra vir­gin cat­e­gory. That is why, although young, this coun­try has already estab­lished itself as a reli­able source, so dur­ing the first weeks of har­vest, buy­ers from around the world vis­ited the pro­duc­ers in the cen­tral val­ley, reserv­ing the green oils for their clients.

Olive Oil Times vis­ited some Chilean orchards to see how the har­vest was going, just before this coun­try achieved its most suc­cess­ful show­ing dans les sept ans du NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition avec trois médailles d'argent, cinq médailles d'or et deux prix Best in Class.

Alonso Olive Oil has 450 hectares in Litueche, where the super­in­ten­sive fields of Arbequina, Arbosana and Koroneiki, har­mo­niously coex­ist with the tra­di­tional sys­tems for its other cul­ti­vars: Leccino, Frantoio, Picual and Coratina. With these vari­eties, Alonso pro­duces their blend, a wide range of mono­va­ri­etals and their icon Obsession brand. Its star, undoubt­edly, is the Alonso Coratina, qui a encore brillé au NYIOOC obtain­ing the Best in Class in its cat­e­gory.

Diego Livingstone, com­mer­cial direc­tor of the com­pany, is opti­mistic about the qual­ity of this year´s pro­duc­tion since the ther­mal oscil­la­tion promises oils with a higher con­cen­tra­tion of aro­mas. “In 2019, the chal­lenge is to con­tinue posi­tion­ing our­selves as one of the best oils in the world, that our cus­tomers see us and rec­og­nize us, they are proud to have a bot­tle of this prod­uct,” he said. “We are inter­ested in con­tin­u­ing to grow, increas­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion in Taiwan and Japan, doing a more exhaus­tive job in Brazil, along with fol­low­ing the trend that we are grow­ing in the USA.”

Monteolivo

A few kilo­me­ters fur­ther south is the grove of Deleyda in Pumanque, another of the award-win­ning Chilean pro­duc­ers, win­ning NYIOOC Or pour ses Deleyda Premium. With three blends of dif­fer­ent inten­si­ties, it has a wide pres­ence in Brazil — one of the main mar­kets for Chile — but it also works intensely to increase its pres­ence in the USA, Japan and China.

Its com­mer­cial direc­tor, Fernando Carrasco, explained that 2018 was his record year of pro­duc­tion, so this cam­paign will have a lower yield, but with a bet­ter con­cen­tra­tion of oil and higher qual­ity, accord­ing to what he has seen with the vari­eties already har­vested. “We want to con­sol­i­date our com­mer­cial matrix to a 100-per­cent pack­aged oil model,” he said. Currently, 20 per­cent of their oil is sold in bulk.

The strat­egy at Monteolivo is dif­fer­ent. After sev­eral years sell­ing bot­tled oil, they have opted for the qual­ity bulk busi­ness. Manuel Urmeneta, Monteolivo’s gen­eral man­ager, explained how dif­fi­cult it was to com­pete with their brands in such a con­gested mar­ket, but then they dis­cov­ered a group of buy­ers will­ing to pay for good extra vir­gin olive oils, so now the com­pany focus is only on qual­ity. The main cus­tomers are in the USA, although they have also suc­cess­fully started mar­ket­ing in Japan.

In New York, their oils achieved two Gold, one Silver, and a Best in Class for their name­sake Monteolivo brand. “We have made sev­eral adjust­ments in the mill [such as cut­ting the malax­ing time in half and the tem­per­a­ture con­trol of decanters],” Urmeneta told us. “so far, we have 65 per­cent progress and I would say that almost all pro­duc­tion is ultra pre­mium.”

Olisur

Monteolivo has sev­eral groves, total­ing 800 hectares, and works with some exter­nal grow­ers, which com­ple­ment its offer and allowed it to pro­duce 1,500 tons in the 2018 cam­paign. Urmeneta pre­dicts that the Chilean pro­duc­tion will be down 25 per­cent from the 2018 cam­paign (Monteolivo esti­mated a 15-per­cent decrease).

Olisur, with its Olive & Co brand, is the best-sell­ing Chilean oil in the USA. Its Marchigüe orchard of 1,650 hectares, is one of the largest in the coun­try.

For this com­pany, the biggest chal­lenges are in the agri­cul­tural sec­tor. Claudio Lovazzano, head of mar­ket­ing for the com­pany told us, “In mid-2019, we started oper­at­ing under the Farming Optimization Project [which involved] man­age­ment of cli­mate, soil and water para­me­ters with the objec­tive of increas­ing yields and improv­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity in 2020, allow­ing us to gen­er­ate a more lim­ited pro­duc­tion bud­get in terms of vol­ume and mar­gins.”

With an esti­mated 3,000 tons this year, Olisur said it will increase pro­duc­tion by 13 per­cent. But that’s not all. The Chilean com­pany is also devel­op­ing its own project in the region of Évora (Portugal), where they have 390 hectares in full pro­duc­tion — the first orchard with the Chilean flag on the other side of the world.


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