Chilean olive oil producers look to Russian market

In less than a decade, the Andean nation’s olive oil market has grown rapidly in both worth and prestige.

Chile has made a big impact on the global market for a range of produce — wine and fruits in particular are huge exports — but now the country is looking to open up new opportunities with another high quality product: extra virgin olive oil.

The exceptional flavor of Chilean olive oil has stood out in recent competitions, notably being tasted by specialists in Russia, one of the emerging markets producers are seeking to target.

In order to capitalize on this recent success and the booming Russian market, Chilean producers have visited Moscow in recent months hosting showcases to promote the nation’s olive oil produce.

A recent event was attended by a raft of figures from the world of gastronomy and featured a tasting by expert Alexander Smirnov and guided by acclaimed chef Pavel Ragoyen who demonstrated the products many uses by preparing diverse dishes such as salmon and chocolate mousse.

A booming export

While the international olive oil market is predominantly led by mediterranean countries such as Spain, Italy and Greece, Chile has steadily increased production over the last five years and today represents 0.6 percent of global production.

Currently, Chile boasts around 26 thousand hectares of plantations, representing a growth of 420 percent since 2005. Of this, 90 percent of the extra-virgin quality olive oil produced is exported.

In 2012, the industry valued at US$36 million dollars, equivalent to 10.228 tonnes, representing an increase of 52 percent over the previous year. And by 2015, the olive oil sector hopes exports will exceed US$100 million dollars and enter new markets — currently most trade is with the United States, Brazil, Italy, Canada and Spain.

The secret behind the industry’s recent success can be attributed to various factors. One is the use of technology, utilized to examine some of the leading olive oil products from Spain and Italy.

Another explanation is that most of the Chile’s many agricultural areas enjoy a warm mediterranean climate without the bothersome “olive fly,” a pest that harms the product in many other countries. Either way, the final product is receiving praise — olive oil products from Chile have won several international prizes for quality and are being highlighted by top chefs such as Todd English.