Chilean Producers Manage a Hard Year to a Promising Harvest

Chile is expected to produce roughly 20,000 tons of olive oil in 2021. Producers have renewed focus on quality to help their brands stand out.

Photo: ChileOliva
May. 17, 2021
By Jasmina Nevada
Photo: ChileOliva

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Despite the chal­lenges of an ongo­ing drought and the Covid-19 pan­demic, Chilean olive oil pro­duc­tion is expected to once again exceed 20,000 tons in the 2020/21 crop year.

Gabriela Moglia, the gen­eral man­ager of the National Association of Chilean Olive Oil Producers (ChileOliva), told Olive Oil Times it is still too early to give a pre­cise fig­ure, but all signs point to another good year for pro­duc­ers.

There are short­ages of spaces in the dif­fer­ent ships, con­ges­tion in ports and long tran­sits on the routes, which has made it very dif­fi­cult to meet 100 per­cent of the dates pro­grammed.- José Manuel Reyes, devel­op­ment man­ager, Agrícola Pobeña

The Chilean olive har­vest starts in mid-April each year and ends in early- to mid-June. The country’s Mediterranean cli­mate is ideal for olive cul­ti­va­tion and gen­er­ally leads to high yields.

This year, the har­vest began a few weeks ear­lier just to carry out good coor­di­na­tion and be pre­pared for pan­demic con­tin­gen­cies,” Moglia said. Producers, who mostly export high-qual­ity olive oil, have demand­ing inter­na­tional stan­dards, so the Covid-19 sit­u­a­tion has sup­ple­mented their safety mea­sures with strict pro­to­cols to pre­vent con­ta­gion.”

See Also:2021 Harvest Update

Chile has been expe­ri­enc­ing drought con­di­tions for the past cou­ple of years, which has led to mount­ing con­cerns in the agri­cul­tural sec­tor and empha­sized the need for com­pa­nies to plan ahead.

However, there has been more rain in the cur­rent crop year than in the pre­vi­ous two, which helped grow­ers. One month into the har­vest, most pro­duc­ers expect to have a good year, both in quan­tity and qual­ity.

The lead­ing cause for con­cern stems from the absence of rain in recent weeks.

This year, we are expect­ing an esti­mated pro­duc­tion of 2.8 mil­lion liters of con­ven­tional olive oil and 700,000 liters of organic olive oil,” Claudio Lovazzano, the head of mar­ket­ing at Olivos del Sur, told Olive Oil Times.


Photo: Olisur

Olisur has more than 1,800 hectares of olive crops planted in San José de Marchigue and 500 hectares of organic olive trees in the Coquimbo area of north­ern Chile.

Meticulous plan­ning has allowed the company’s 60 employ­ees to oper­ate con­tin­u­ously dur­ing the har­vest while fol­low­ing health pro­to­cols.

Covid-19 has pre­sented logis­ti­cal and prac­ti­cal chal­lenges. While Olisur has suc­cess­fully kept its employ­ees safe through­out the pan­demic, this has inevitably caused pro­duc­tion delays.

Throughout the day, oper­a­tors run six har­vest­ing machines. Olives from the company’s super-high-den­sity groves are con­tin­u­ously deliv­ered to the mill, ensur­ing that the entire pro­duc­tion process is com­plete within two hours.

Lovazzano said this process ensures high organolep­tic qual­ity and chem­i­cal para­me­ters for the company’s award-win­ning extra vir­gin olive oil, which boasts low acid­ity and is pro­duced using a sus­tain­able and envi­ron­men­tally friendly process.

At Olisur, each process is con­trolled and mea­sured, as we are the only olive oil in Chile and Latin America cer­ti­fied as car­bon neu­tral,” Lovazzano said. Olisur is a mem­ber of the Clean Production Agreement and also has a For Life (cor­po­rate social respon­si­bil­ity) cer­ti­fi­ca­tion that empha­sizes not only the qual­ity of pro­duc­tion but also the work­ers and the com­mu­nity around us.”


Photo: Olisur

Situated a few kilo­me­ters west of Olisur, José Manuel Reyes, the devel­op­ment man­ager at Agrícola Pobeña, which pro­duces Alonso Olive Oil, has out­lined the addi­tional logis­ti­cal fac­tors for the dis­tri­b­u­tion of olive oil dur­ing the pan­demic that need to be taken into account.

There are short­ages of spaces in the dif­fer­ent ships, con­ges­tion in ports and long tran­sits on the routes, which has made it very dif­fi­cult to meet 100 per­cent of the dates pro­grammed, espe­cially for those of us who sell fresh and green oil,” Manuel Reyes told Olive Oil Times.

To off­set some of the eco­nomic impacts of the pan­demic on the olive oil sup­ply chains, many Chilean pro­duc­ers are opt­ing to cer­tify their prod­ucts with the AOS Seal. The stamp ensures that part­ner com­pa­nies meet spe­cific sus­tain­able man­age­ment require­ments in pro­duc­ing or mar­ket­ing their olive oils.

The seal is obtained by mem­ber com­pa­nies that com­ply with the Chilean government’s Clean Production Agreement, which sets out nine main goals related to improv­ing sus­tain­abil­ity, con­serv­ing water, pro­mot­ing bio­di­ver­sity and decreas­ing car­bon emis­sions.

Chilean olive oil pro­duc­ers are also work­ing on a national sus­tain­abil­ity cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, which grants a Sustainable Olive Oil-AOS Seal to those com­pa­nies that meet the goals of the Clean Production Agreement.

The goal of the sus­tain­abil­ity cer­ti­fi­ca­tions is to help set Chilean extra vir­gin olive oils apart in a crowded inter­na­tional mar­ket.


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