Officials in Uruguay Expect Another Bumper Harvest

As agronomic techniques improve and recently-planted groves enter maturity, Uruguay’s agriculture ministry expects production to continue to rise in the medium term.
Olive groves in eastern Uruguay
By Daniel Dawson
Feb. 15, 2023 15:28 UTC

Officials from the min­istry of agri­cul­ture and some inde­pen­dent agron­o­mists antic­i­pate a bumper har­vest for Uruguay in 2023.

In a recent report, the min­istry expected the 2023 har­vest to exceed last year’s near-record yield. The min­istry based its pre­lim­i­nary esti­mates on the state of flow­er­ing and fruit set in the groves.

According to data from the International Olive Council, South America’s small­est olive oil-pro­duc­ing coun­try yielded 2,000 tons in the 2021/22 crop year, slightly below the record-high 2,500 tons of the 2019/20 crop year.

See Also:2023 Harvest Updates

The state of the olive groves in Uruguay has improved with the rain­fall received,” said Sergio Gómez, the Uruguayan direc­tor of Onoser, who advises many of the country’s largest pro­duc­ers.

Barring untimely frosts, which com­pli­cated pre­vi­ous har­vests, the min­istry expects Uruguayan olive oil pro­duc­tion to con­tinue its upward trend.

The min­istry cited two major fac­tors for the ris­ing Uruguayan olive oil pro­duc­tion: bet­ter agro­nomic tech­niques, which have mit­i­gated the impacts of the nat­ural alter­nate bear­ing cycle of the olive tree and more olive groves enter­ing matu­rity.

The report added that olive oil pro­duc­tion is expected to con­tinue upward in the medium term as more olive groves enter matu­rity.

As a result of pro­duc­tion finally start­ing to exceed con­sump­tion in the coun­try con­sis­tently – which has remained steady at about 1,500 to 2,000 tons per annum – the min­istry said that locally-pro­duced olive oil has started sup­plant­ing imports in restau­rants and on super­mar­ket shelves.

Despite this chang­ing trend, Uruguay still imports 60 per­cent of the olive oil con­sumed domes­ti­cally, mainly from Argentina, Spain, Italy and Chile. However, the higher-end por­tion of the mar­ket is increas­ingly being cap­tured by Uruguayan brands.

The rise in Uruguayan olive oil sur­pluses has also led more pro­duc­ers to shift their focus to exports. According to min­istry data, Uruguay exported nearly 300 tons of extra vir­gin olive oil to five coun­tries in 2022, val­ued at more than $1.2 mil­lion.

The largest recip­i­ent by value was Brazil, which imported 84 tons of olive oil val­ued at $455,000. Most pro­duc­ers expect Uruguay’s north­ern neigh­bor to remain the most sig­nif­i­cant mar­ket due to the country’s mod­est pro­duc­tion and far more sig­nif­i­cant demand.

By vol­ume, Uruguay exported more olive oil to Spain – 134 tons val­ued at $428,000 – than any other coun­try. Other recip­i­ents included neigh­bor­ing Argentina, the United States and Paraguay.

According to the min­istry, the boost in exports and local sales helped pro­duc­ers mit­i­gate the impacts of infla­tion, which led to sig­nif­i­cant increases in energy and fer­til­izer prices.


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