`Olisur, Champion of Chilean Olive Oil - Olive Oil Times

Olisur, Champion of Chilean Olive Oil

Dec. 26, 2010
Sarah Schwager

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Situated among the Chilean plains between the Andes and the sea lies an expanse of olive oil groves and estate so mod­ern, sus­tain­able and effi­cient that it appears to have been plucked right out of the Mediterranean.

And this was exactly the plan when an epiphany occurred to EVOO com­pany Olisur’s owner and Chairman Alfonso Swett while he was trav­el­ling in Spain just a few years ago.

He real­ized that the land there, which was rich and abun­dant in olive plan­ta­tions, was very sim­i­lar to that of Chile, with its mild win­ters and long sum­mers. And so after putting together a team of soil, nurs­ery, irri­ga­tion and cli­mate experts from all over the world, and find­ing the right land and olive vari­eties, the project rolled out in 2005.

Since then, Olisur has planted more than 1,000 hectares, had mul­ti­ple inter­na­tional suc­cesses, and expects to pro­duce 1.7 mil­lion liters in its next har­vest. But the com­pany has not gone with­out its share of chal­lenges.

Executive Director José Pablo Lafuente said the first chal­lenge was find­ing out whether all the research, work and effort was actu­ally going to mate­ri­al­ize into a high-qual­ity oil. Fortunately it was, our oil has won sev­eral prizes, includ­ing a gold medal in a major con­test in the world,” Mr. Lafuente said.

The sec­ond chal­lenge, which com­pa­nies through­out the New World are fac­ing, has been to con­vince peo­ple that olive oil is not a prod­uct exclu­sive to Italy or the Mediterranean. As part of a rel­a­tively small Chilean olive oil indus­try, Olisur has ded­i­cated much of its focus to pro­mot­ing and grow­ing the regional agri­cul­tural sec­tor.

The com­pany has a major role in the com­mu­nity around the Colchagua Valley in which it is sit­u­ated, work­ing with locals to help them improve their capa­bil­i­ties and sup­port their fam­i­lies. We are very pas­sion­ate and com­mit­ted to what we do and in this sense I am very proud of our team, because I see how they give their best effort every day. Without peo­ple you can­not suc­ceed in any busi­ness. We are all part of the Olisur fam­ily.”

It is this atti­tude, along with smart busi­ness choices and a favor­able cli­mate that has helped Olisur deliver what Mr. Lafuente terms the high­est qual­ity olive oil in the world”, with a low acid­ity, free of defects, and a pro­duc­tion process that is 100 per­cent sus­tain­able and trace­able.”

Actually, there is no doubt that we can pro­duce a bet­ter oil than most of the oil bot­tled in Italy and sent to the US,” Mr. Lafuente said. Our goal is to give con­sumers qual­ity olive oil that in the past was only avail­able from small bou­tique farms at very expen­sive prices.” Olisur is able to do that using a mechan­i­cal har­vest­ing process which is gen­tle on the fruit, helps main­tain a highly pro­duc­tive farm, and allows them to con­trol the press­ing speed.

Olisur has also worked hard toward an envi­ron­men­tally friendly and sus­tain­able busi­ness. Byproducts such as pulp and pits have rich com­po­nents that are recy­cled as organic fer­til­izer, to pro­vide the plan­ta­tion with energy and give back what the earth has so gen­er­ously given us”, at the same time cre­at­ing more jobs.

And so it seems the sky is the limit for this young com­pany. Our dream is to become a top ten player in the US olive oil mar­ket and we will do so,” Mr. Lafuente said.

Consumers do not yet real­ize that the olive oils that they con­sume today are not high-qual­ity oils.” Olisur olives are 100% estate grown and take two hours from har­vest­ing to pro­duc­ing the oil. This is a huge dif­fer­ence and we know that con­sumers will value that.”

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