Exports have grown by 144%
The olive oil production boom in Chile
The Chilean industry has not stopped growing in quality, volume and prestige, since it was acknowledged by the most important oil guide four years ago.
Monday, January 11, 2010
Category: Business - Food
Chilean wine experienced explosive growth a couple of decades ago and the
country is currently the 10th largest producer in the world, according to data
from the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV). Today, replicating the successful path taken by
wine, a new product has emerged as the next Chilean star on tables all over the
world: olive oil.
In fact, “Chile is significantly increasing
the production of extra virgin olive oil, going
from producing 1,000 tons in 2003 to 8,500 in 2009, with a projection of
35,000 by 2015,” states Juan Pablo Barrios, president of ChileOliva, the organization that includes the main local producers.
The temperate Mediterranean climate and fertile soil
of central Chile
and its Norte Chico - between the Third and Seventh Regions - are the perfect
place for producing high-quality olive oil. There were already olive
plantations in the country by the 16th century, stretching from the Limarí Valley
in the north to the Bio
in the south. At the beginning, production was exclusively by hand, but in the
1950s the industry began a process of professionalization that has yet to end.
Barrios clarifies that the favored soil and climate
are not the only advantages that Chile has for producing this
nutritious product. “Another important factor is the fact that Chile is a
producer and exporter of agro-industrial products and knows about this, in
addition to having signed free trade
agreements with 56 countries, which represents a great opportunity when it
comes to thinking about where to send the production,” the businessman says.
The milestone for modern olive oil production in Chile
came in 2005, when the National Association of Chilean Olive and Olive Oil
Producers was distinguished by L’Extravergine,
the most important oil guide for restaurants and chefs all over the world.
Chilean production has received growing acknowledgment abroad since then.
Chile exported 1,342 tons of olive oil between January and
September 2009, a 144% increase compared
to the same period the year before. “The greatest challenge that the industry
faces today is that of going out into the world. That is, creating the
distribution channels to bring our products and their brands to the different
markets and to satisfy the needs of the different consumers in the most
demanding markets in the world,” Barrios affirms.
The company Oliveros de Quepu is a real success story in the industry. During 2009
the company received no less than four
important international prizes for its oils: two gold medals at the LA County Fair
competition in the United States
and two distinctions in the Orciolo D’Oro event in Italy. Álvaro Cortese Fernández,
business manager for Oliveros de Quepu, highlights that the company has focused
on the quality of its extra virgin olive oil and on the careful management of
its plantations, located in the Pencahue Valle in the Seventh Region.
For Chilean olive oil to reach tables all over the
world, the producer says that “it is fundamental that we act as a bloc and have
a strong communicational and country image strategy, following for example the
steps taken by Wines of Chile (the association that promotes Chilean wine) in the
form of our own association: ChileOliva.” He also adds that “you need to have
policies for clean, sustainable and
environmentally responsible production, as we do in Oliveros de Quepu.”
Juan Pablo Barrios highlights that the Chilean wine model is an excellent
reference, as it is an industry with a great tradition that has come a long way
and is highly professionalized, in addition to developing under similar
parameters that the olive oil industry does. “We must pay close attention and
learn everything that we can,” he says.