Argentina Receives Its First Geographical Indication for Olive Oil

Local producers and officials believe the country’s first PGI will promote the local Arauco variety and hope other regions will follow.
Mar. 9, 2022
Paolo DeAndreis

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Extra vir­gin olive oil pro­duced in the west­ern Argentine province of Mendoza will receive Protected Geographical Indication sta­tus by the end of the month.

The seal of qual­ity that pro­tects the extra vir­gin olive oils from imi­ta­tion or coun­ter­feit­ing will for­mally come into force 30 days after it was pub­lished by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries.

We believe that it is an oppor­tu­nity to pos­i­tively posi­tion local olive grow­ing (on the mar­ket) and sus­tain at least part of the tra­di­tional olive trees of the Arauco vari­ety.- Alfredo Baroni, tech­ni­cal coor­di­na­tor, Rural Development Institute

To qual­ify for pro­tected sta­tus, the extra vir­gin olive oils must be pro­duced using a min­i­mum of 20 per­cent to a max­i­mum of 50 per­cent of the native Arauco vari­ety. The remain­der of the oil must include Frantoio, Arbequina, Farga, Coratina, Picual or Koroneiki olives.

The local pro­duc­ers and offi­cials believe the PGI is an appro­pri­ate step in giv­ing more value to qual­ity pro­duc­tions.

See Also:Inclement Weather Dampens Argentina Olive Harvest, But Quality Remains High

A seal that allows iden­ti­fi­ca­tion by ori­gin is very impor­tant for Mendoza’s olive grow­ing,” Alfredo Baroni, the tech­ni­cal coor­di­na­tor at the Rural Development Institute, told Olive Oil Times. We believe that it is an oppor­tu­nity to pos­i­tively posi­tion local olive grow­ing [on the mar­ket] and sus­tain at least part of the tra­di­tional olive trees of the Arauco vari­ety, which pro­duce a much supe­rior oil, but with very low yields and which in many cases are found on small prop­er­ties.”

The olive tree has always been a very impor­tant agri­cul­tural and agro-indus­trial activ­ity for Mendoza, which accom­pa­nied the wine indus­try,” he added. Under this point of view, it is time to catch up with [the wine indus­try].”

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Baroni said the new geo­graph­i­cal indi­ca­tion is an oppor­tu­nity to accom­pany the efforts being made by var­i­ous local busi­ness­men to high­light the qual­ity of local oils in var­i­ous inter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tions.”

According to the Argentine reg­u­la­tion, Mendoza olive oil was granted PGI sta­tus because the olives grown in the province endow the oils with spe­cific qual­i­ties or char­ac­ter­is­tics not found in olive oils pro­duced else­where in Argentina.

The Ministry of Agriculture describes the sen­sory pro­file of Mendoza PGI extra vir­gin olive oil as fruiti­ness, with other pos­i­tive attrib­utes such as bit­ter­ness and pun­gency of medium-high inten­sity; and zero defects. Full-bod­ied, heavy and thick on the palate. On the nose, it stands out for a light fruiti­ness, absence of defects.”

The char­ac­ter­is­tics of Mendoza oils change accord­ing to the vari­etal com­po­si­tion,” Mónica Mirábile, an agri­cul­tural sci­ence pro­fes­sor and researcher at the National University of Cuyo (UNCuyo), in Mendoza, told Olive Oil Times. In gen­eral, they are intense oils, where bit­ter­ness and spici­ness pre­vail. They are fruity, and the olive leaf and tomato stand out.”

The UNCuyo panel test played a piv­otal role in ana­lyz­ing the unique­ness of the new PGI. Mirábile said the local extra vir­gin olive oil has a high oleic acid con­tent due to the lat­i­tude of cul­ti­va­tion and Mediterranean cli­mate.”

She added how approx­i­mately 30 per­cent of Mendoza’s olive groves com­prise Arbequina, with 20 per­cent devoted to Arauco.

Still, we also have the pres­ence of other vari­eties such as Frantoio, Farga, Coratina, Picual, Koroneiki and Changlot,” Mirábile said.

As a result, local blends include the two vari­eties in the major­ity. The result­ing extra vir­gin olive oils present phys­i­cal-chem­i­cal and sen­sory attrib­utes highly depen­dent on the pro­por­tion of the deployed cul­ti­vars.

In blends with Arbequina, fruity notes of banana and apple and nuts pre­dom­i­nate; less bit­ter and pun­gent. Harmonious,” Mirábile said.

When Arauco olives are in the major­ity, blends tend to present herba­ceous notes, leaves and veg­eta­bles” with a more bit­ter and pun­gent note.

Mirábile added how blends with Arauco have a higher per­cent­age of oleic acid, close to 70 per­cent, a very good value.”

On the other hand, there is a good amount of phe­no­lic com­pounds that, as they are antiox­i­dants, increase the shelf life of the olive oil and are ben­e­fi­cial to human health,” she said.

The expected con­tents of the new PGI include 60 per­cent or more oleic acid, a total acid­ity infe­rior to 0.6 per­cent, more than 100 parts per mil­lion of polyphe­nols and less than 12 per­cent of per­ox­ides.

The sig­nif­i­cance of olive oil in the Argentine agri-food econ­omy has been steadily grow­ing. According to the most recent data from Juan Vilar Strategic Consultants, it is the thir­teenth coun­try in the world in terms of sur­face area devoted to olive grow­ing.

It is also the eleventh-largest olive oil pro­ducer, with 65 per­cent of that being vir­gin or extra vir­gin olive oil.

While the Mendoza extra vir­gin olive oil is the first PGI in the coun­try, offi­cials believe that this could be just the begin­ning of rec­og­niz­ing farm­ers’ work and giv­ing more value to local qual­ity pro­duc­tions.

I hope that hap­pens and that [the PGI announce­ment] will encour­age other provinces and other regions of Argentina to do the same,” Baroni con­cluded. I believe that many places meet the cor­rect con­di­tions, such as San Juan or the olive trees in Patagonia.”



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