Brazil's Largest Producer Celebrates a Triumphant Harvest

Prosperato enjoyed a record harvest in and won four awards at the World Olive Oil Competition.
Rafael Marchetti
Jul. 25, 2022
Daniel Dawson

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Brazil’s largest olive oil pro­ducer is enjoy­ing a record year in more ways than one.

Situated in the south­east­ern state of Rio Grande do Sul, Prosperato pro­duced a record-high 70,000 liters in the cur­rent crop year and cel­e­brated win­ning four awards, another record, at the 2022 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.

We still find peo­ple every day that don’t know that Brazilian olive oil exists. The way we can get to these peo­ple is with this kind of news, talk­ing about awards.- Rafael Marchetti, CEO, Prosperato

We started har­vest­ing in the first week of February and fin­ished in the first week of May, so it was almost 90 days,” Rafael Marchetti, the company’s chief exec­u­tive, told Olive Oil Times. We had never har­vested in May, so it was our longest har­vest.”

Marchetti attrib­uted the increased amount of time to the steadily ris­ing num­ber of olives being pro­duced by his matur­ing trees.

See Also:Producer Profiles

While the com­pany pro­duced a larger quan­tity of olives in 2019, an extended drought meant the oil con­tent of those olives was much lower and resulted in a slightly lower pro­duc­tion of 65,000 liters.

We have trees of all ages, from four years old to almost 15,” Marchetti said. We have more olives because the trees are now big­ger.”

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Along with his trees enter­ing matu­rity, Marchetti said his under­stand­ing of how to pro­duce extra vir­gin olive oil in Brazil has also matured.

The com­bi­na­tion of bet­ter agro­nomic tech­niques in his two groves and improved milling tech­niques means he can get the most out of his trees and the olives they pro­duce.

We don’t know every­thing, but we are learn­ing more about how to grow olives in our envi­ron­ment, how to prune cor­rectly, how to use the new trends at the right time,” he said. And we also had a very cold win­ter last year, which helped pro­duce more flow­ers.”

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Harvesting olives at Prosperato

Rio Grande do Sul is a median-sized state in Brazil, slightly larger than Ecuador, stretch­ing from the Atlantic coast­line to the west­ern bor­der with Argentina.

Prosperato has two olive groves in the state, one in Costa Doce, just south of the state cap­i­tal Porto Alegre near the coast. The other is in Capaçava do Sul, which fea­tures a more humid con­ti­nen­tal cli­mate in the cen­ter of the state.

Having olive trees in two very dif­fer­ent regions made us learn faster,” he said. We always have some­thing new to learn. It’s so dif­fer­ent from what they are doing in Europe because the cli­mate is so dif­fer­ent. So we basi­cally had to learn every­thing from scratch.”

The com­pany began pro­duc­ing olive oil in 2013 from its groves near Porto Alegre after plant­ing its first olive trees in 2011.

Before pro­duc­ing olive oil, Marchetti worked at Tecnoplanta Forestal, a tree nurs­ery founded by his father 30 years ago.

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Tree nursery at Tecnoplanta Forestal

While most of the company’s efforts were con­cen­trated on cloning and graft­ing euca­lyp­tus trees for the region’s promi­nent forestry indus­try, he said the com­pany ini­tially planted olive trees as a proof of con­cept to a prospec­tive cus­tomer.

Our olive oil pro­duc­tion is all from olive trees planted to show investors that it was pos­si­ble to pro­duce, to grow olive trees and to pro­duce a very good olive oil,” he said.

Unlike other pro­duc­ers here in Brazil, when we started this busi­ness, we never trav­eled to other coun­tries to see how they grow olive trees or pro­duce olive oil,” Marchetti added. We just started plant­ing because it is what our com­pany knows how to do.”

Unsurprisingly, the company’s proof of con­cept worked. Marchetti said that Tecnoplanta con­tin­ues to pro­vide olive trees to Brazilian pro­duc­ers, some of whom have gone on to win at the NYIOOC with those same trees.

At the tenth edi­tion of the world’s largest olive oil qual­ity com­pe­ti­tion, Prosperato earned four Gold Awards, bring­ing the company’s total award count at the NYIOOC to 13.

These results are spe­cial for us, espe­cially because it’s not just one year we sent and we got good results, but we are show­ing some con­sis­tency,” Marchetti said.

Among the win­ning oils are Picual, Frantoio and Koroneiki mono­va­ri­etals, along with a blend of Arbequina and Arbosana olives. While the oth­ers have won before, this was the first time Marchetti sub­mit­ted his Frantoio oil.

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Photo: Prosperato

He believes the increas­ing num­ber of awards, both for him­self and other pro­duc­ers in Brazil, indi­cate that qual­ity is improv­ing. In 2020, Prosperato became the first com­pany to export olive oil in Brazil, which Marchetti attrib­uted to a 2019 Best in Class Award at the NYIOOC.

It was one of the main rea­sons why this hap­pened,” he said. “[Consumers] are very ori­ented on the awards.”

At his store, located with the mill in Capaçava do Sul, Marchetti said the same is true with regional wines, with award-win­ning bot­tles sell­ing more quickly than non-award-win­ning ones.

One of the most sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenges fac­ing Marchetti and many other Brazilian pro­duc­ers is intro­duc­ing Brazilians to local extra vir­gin olive oil and per­suad­ing them to use it instead of the long-favored imports from Europe.

Brazil is so big that even here in our region, we still find peo­ple every day that don’t know that Brazilian olive oil exists,” he said. The way we can get to these peo­ple is with this kind of news, talk­ing about awards.”

While increas­ing the domes­tic olive oil con­sumer base in Brazil is a more long-term issue, Marchetti faced plenty more imme­di­ate ones. Like pro­duc­ers in neigh­bor­ing Uruguay, he had a dif­fi­cult time find­ing bot­tles.

A com­bi­na­tion of slow­downs at glass pro­duc­tion facil­i­ties in Chile – where many in the region source their glass bot­tles from – dur­ing the Covid-19 pan­demic, along with increased com­pe­ti­tion with the wine and beer sec­tors, meant olive oil pro­duc­ers were often a low pri­or­ity.

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Prosperato’s olive groves

For these com­pa­nies that pro­duced glass bot­tles, the olive oil sec­tor is just like very min­i­mal,” Marchetti said. It’s almost noth­ing when com­pared to wine and beer. That’s why we’re fac­ing the biggest prob­lems with hav­ing a nor­mal sup­ply.”

Marchetti added that he even­tu­ally man­aged to buy some glass bot­tles from Italy but expects these will take longer to arrive.

Along with a glass short­age, the pro­duc­ers at Prosperato also feel the impacts of ris­ing pro­duc­tion costs, a con­se­quence of ongo­ing dis­rup­tions to the global sup­ply chain, infla­tion and ris­ing fuel costs. It’s just a crazy moment we’re in,” Marchetti said.

Another legacy of the Covid-19 pan­demic, which killed more than 668,000 peo­ple in Brazil, was the restric­tions put in place by some states to stem its spread.

Our main chan­nel for sell­ing olive oil is our shop we have right with the mill,” Marchetti said. During the pan­demic, we closed our store.”

However, it has since reopened, and sales vol­umes have returned to pre-pan­demic lev­els. Despite this return to busi­ness as usual, Marchetti used the clo­sure to improve his online pres­ence and is now reap­ing the ben­e­fits.

We have increased sales from our online store,” Marchetti said. We are invest­ing more in our online mar­ket­ing. It’s very dif­fer­ent because we can sup­ply our cus­tomers directly instead of just reselling it for other stores or super­mar­kets.”


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