South American producers from Argentina, Chile and Uruguay combined to earn the highest number of awards for the region since 2019.
Part of our continuing special coverage of the 2022 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.
Producers from the Southern Cone – composed of Argentina, Chile and Uruguay – combined to earn 14 awards at the 2022 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition, the region’s highest total since 2019.
Half of the awards – three Gold and four Silver Awards – were earned by four producers from Chile. Meanwhile, two Argentine producers combined to win two Gold Awards and a Silver Award. Finally, three Uruguayan producers came away from the competition with a combined two Gold Awards and a Silver Award.
With these post-pandemic years and the economic difficulties that our country is going through, continuing to produce quality oils with international recognition makes us proud.
While the prolonged drought in northwestern Argentina and Chile’s central valley impacted the 2022 harvests in Latin America’s two largest olive oil-producing countries, Uruguay enjoyed more favorable conditions.
However, producers from all three countries faced challenges related to congested global supply chains and rising production costs. These were especially felt in Argentina, where annual inflation has risen to 58 percent, and energy costs have increased substantially.See Also:The Best Olive Oils from Argentina
“With these post-pandemic years and the economic difficulties that our country is going through, continuing to produce quality oils with international recognition makes us proud and gives us the strength to continue making an effort,” Patricia Calderón, the director of Establecimiento Olivum, told Olive Oil Times.
The producers earned a Silver Award for a medium blend during their fourth appearance at the competition, in which they have won six awards.
“At Establecimiento Olivum, we produce premium quality oils,” Calderón said. “For this, the quality of the fruit on the farm, the early harvest and immediate grinding with strict temperature control are essential.”
Situated in the northwestern province of San Juan, Olivum’s olive groves sprawl over 1,000 hectares at the foot of the Andes Mountains. The San Juan Valley’s unique microclimate yields Olivum’s high-quality olives and provides plenty of challenges throughout the harvest.
“Defining the right harvest time is always a challenge,” Calderón said. “The frosts that promised to be early forced us to be very efficient to finish the harvest before they arrived.”
“Being awarded in such a prestigious contest and with such a recognized tasting panel confirms the quality we claim to achieve in our production,” she added.
On the Southern Cone’s eastern seaboard, Uruguay’s largest olive oil producer celebrated its second-consecutive award at the 2022 NYIOOC, winning Gold for a delicate blend.
“We are very proud and honored by the recognition,” María José Morín, the marketing manager at Agroland and Nuevo Manatial, which produces Olivares de Rocha, told Olive Oil Times. “We trust these awards will help us conquer new markets.”
According to Morín, Agroland produces more than 40 percent of all olive oil in Uruguay and is finding a distributor in the United States. Morín cited this as one of the reasons the company decided first to enter the competition last year.
“Therefore, we are the main stakeholders in continuing to position Uruguay as one of the best quality extra virgin olive oil producers in the world,” she said. “This award can have an impact on the recognition of Uruguay as an origin also for extra virgin olive oil.”See Also:The Best Olive Oils from Uruguay
Morín attributed the company’s commitment to quality instead of quantity and sustainable production techniques as two reasons for its success.
“We take maximum care of our crops and the surrounding environment,” she said. “We are inside the first wind farm in Uruguay, and the energy is 100-percent self-generated, as well as taking care of our own water resources.”
“Quality is prioritized over quantity,” Morín added. “The process is meticulous and is monitored by our laboratory. The fundamental thing is that the entire human team involved has a passion for the product.”
Despite having a more cooperative climate this year than in previous years, Morín said that adapting to Uruguay’s changing climate remained their most significant challenge.
Víctor Rodríguez, the general manager for olive oil at Agroland, which produces Colinas de Garzón, another NYIOOC winner from Uruguay, said the high levels of humidity throughout the year make producing consistently high-quality olive oil more difficult.
“Uruguay is a country with a lot of humidity, and this leads to a lot of health monitoring (proliferation of diseases) in addition to maintaining the same sensory profile year after year in each of our extra virgin olive oils,” he told Olive Oil Times.
Colinas de Garzón earned a Gold and Silver Award for a pair of medium blends. Rodríguez said winning in the competition helped the brand and profile of Uruguayan olive oils on the world stage.
“This is a contest of great importance worldwide, and obtaining these results gives us a letter of introduction to the world that is very good,” he said.
On the other side of the Southern Cone, producers in Chile recorded the third-highest awards total in nine years at the competition.
Of those, Agricola Pobeña earned two Gold Awards and a Silver Award. José Manuel Reyes, the company’s development manager, agreed that consistent success in the competition promotes Chilean oils on the international stage.
“The results confirm the good work that has been done,” he told Olive Oil Times. “Chile is a high-quality producer, and this is being recognized worldwide. It motivates all producers to continue taking Chilean olive oil to the top.”See Also:The Best Olive Oils from Chile
During the harvest, Reyes said Chile’s ongoing drought had been one of the company’s biggest challenges. The lack of rain in 2021 forced the company to reduce its irrigation by up to 50 percent for some varieties.
However, this did not stop the producer of the Alonso Olive Oil brand from extending its history of success in the competition.
“We have managed to be consistent in our work over the years, producing quality olive oils,” Reyes said. “It is no coincidence that our Coratina has obtained Gold Awards in each of the last five years.”
“We’re not here for the awards, but they feel awesome,” Claudio Lovazzano, the company’s marketing manager, told Olive Oil Times about the third consecutive award for its O‑Live & Co brand, a medium blend.
For Olivos del Sur, rising production costs and ongoing global supply chain issues have presented the most significant challenges.
However, Lovazzano attributed years of investment in water management infrastructure and knowledge to why the drought has less impact on the company than other Chilean producers.
“The huge dimensions of our groves, an integrated process from farm to bottle, and our passion for producing only the highest quality of extra virgin olive oil with a deep respect for the environment is what makes Olisur different,” Lovazaano concluded. “We do this every day and expect to do it for a long time.”