Solfrut, an agricultural company, and the government of the San Juan province in Argentina have teamed up to invest $14 million in the company’s plant, which will be the largest in South America upon its completion.
The plant will be responsible for bottling 30 percent of the olive oil that is consumed in Argentina as well as bottling olive oil destined for export to Brazil.
It is, without a doubt, the most important plant in all of Latin America.
The project, which has been divided up into three phases, will be completed by 2021. The first phase is set to be finished up by June when the storage capacity of the plant will be increased to 2,000 tons. At the end of the process, even larger storage tanks will be installed.
“It will be the largest plant in Latin America,” José Chediack, the president of Solfrut’s parent company, said “[When it is completed], it will have a capacity of 4,000 tons.”
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The second phase includes renovating the mill in order to modernize all of the equipment and is expected to be done in time for the 2020 harvest. The third phase will be the modernization and enlargement of the bottling section of the plant.
“The idea is to invest in San Juan and that it serves the growth and development of the province,” Chediack said. “It is, without a doubt, the most important plant in all of Latin America.”
“From here, in San Juan, we will process olive oil for our supermarkets,” he added. “This is work for people from San Juan and it is very important.”
Currently, the plant employs 200 people and once the three-phase expansion is complete, Solfrut expects to increase the workforce by 15 percent.
Various government officials attended the groundbreaking ceremony.
Sergio Uñac, the province’s governor, and Mario Martín, the local mayor, both told attendees of the ceremony that they expect the project to generate well-paying jobs that will benefit the province’s economy.
Uñac said that he sees olive cultivation and olive oil production as a sustainable investment for both the province and the rest of the country. He hopes that these kinds of investments can help increase Argentina’s olive oil exports as well as spur domestic consumption.
“This is the way forward, not only in the province but also in the country,” he said. “We understand that we have to talk more about production, consumption, and exports, but first reactivating the internal market, that is the most important thing.”
A lack of adequate infrastructure surrounding olive oil production is one of the biggest challenges that Argentina faces as it continues to grow the sector. Several prominent members of Argentina’s olive oil industry told Olive Oil Times that expanding the plant is a step in the right direction.