2012 promises to be a breakout year for Uruguay’s emerging olive oil sector, recent reports have indicated. Improved technological resources, heavy investments at home and abroad, and international recognition are some of the major factors contributing to newfound optimism among industry professionals.
Though still relatively small by world standards, Uruguayan olive oil production is expected to grow by 200 percent next year.
Roughly 35 million dollars have been pumped into the industry over the past 10 years, helping to raise production levels to an average 150,000 liters annually. The country is currently home to 150 producers, 20 brands and 9,000 hectares of olive groves.
This momentum shows no signs of slowing down according to industry analysts, who expect the olive oil sector to contribute $40 million a year to Uruguay’s economy by 2021.
Alberto Peverelli, president of the Uruguayan Olive Oil Association (ASOLUR) created in 2004, recognized improvements in recent years to build a more “modern and efficient” industry and said both foreign and national investments have played a major role in sector growth.
Despite these promising signs, the domestic market for olive oil remains sluggish. Uruguayans consume just 0.4 liters a year per capita (the average Spaniard uses over 10 liters annually). However the industry hopes to boost sales by championing the health benefits of daily olive oil consumption in a nationwide campaign.
Uruguay’s minister of Industry, Energy and Mining, Roberto Kreimerman, said the growth of the olive oil industry is not only profitable but good for the country’s image as well.
“This product embodies the image of reliability and quality that is Uruguay today,” he said.