Uruguay’s olive oil industry has continued to grow this year, further demonstrating that the country is well on its way to achieving its goal of producing 10 million liters annually by 2020.
Daniel Davidovics, director of the Uruguayan Olive Oil Association (Asociación Olivícola Uruguaya), said in a recent interview that Uruguay will have tripled its olive oil exports by the end of this year and that local consumption has also been on the rise.
“Per capita consumption in Uruguay has increased from 200 grams just a few years ago to 450 this year. We’re still a long way from the 12 or 13 liters per capita that you see in certain European countries, but the important thing is that we keep growing, that consumers keep learning about the diverse properties of olive oil and appreciate the excellent quality that Uruguay can produce,” Davidovics said.
While marketing efforts to target the domestic market have strengthened in recent years, Uruguayan growers are just as eager to send their products abroad. Brazil, Canada and the United States are the primary consumers of Uruguayan olive oil, though non-traditional markets such as Japan are also showing promise.
“Clearly Uruguay is targeting high end connoisseurs at home, but we’re also looking abroad. Over time we believe Uruguay will become a net exporter. Starting next year we’ll be producing higher values than what the domestic market can consume,” Davidovics said.
National production is also increasing steadily. This year production volume hit approximately 700,000 liters, exceeding Asolur Vice President Alberto Peverelli’s earlier prediction of 550,000 liters. Davidovics says next year Uruguay should increase that figure by an additional 25 percent.
“We’re estimating that next year’s production of extra virgin olive oil will hit one million liters, the most we’ve ever had,” he said.
Uruguay’s industry has become increasingly mobilized in recent years, as evidenced by the 120 members that currently belong to the Uruguayan Olive Oil Association (Asolur). Founded in 2004 with only twelve members, the organization receives government funding through the Office of Budget and Planning’s PACC program. Asolur was instrumental in helping Uruguay become a member of the International Olive Council (IOC) this year, joining Argentina to become the second country representing South America.