Uruguay Olive Oil Market

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URUGUAY JOINS IOC MEMBERSHIP

On 30 July 2013 the Government of Uruguay filed its instrument of accession to the International Agreement on Olive Oil and Table Olives with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Spain, the official depositary of the Agreement. It thus joins the current IOC membership comprising Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Croatia (which became an EU Member in July 2013), Egypt, the European Union, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Montenegro, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey.

Olive production is expanding at full steam in Uruguay. Over the 10-year period between 2002 and 2012 crop area increased from 500 ha to 9 000 ha, of which 92 pc is rainfed and the rest is irrigated. Fifty-five percent of the orchards are between 5 and 15 years old and 45 pc is under the age of five. The area under olives is expected to reach 11 500 ha by 2015.

The whole of Uruguay is potentially suitable for olive production and olive orchards can be found in every region although crop area is concentrated in three major growing zones. The chief growing area is located in the South-east while the other two areas are in the South-west and North-west.

Small and larger orchards exist side by side in the different growing regions. The predominant size of orchard is between 10 and 100 ha. Currently, there are around 20 olive oil mills, which process their own crop – all the mills and packing plants in Uruguay have their own orchards – as well as olives delivered by other growers.

Production is still small with olive oil output for the 2013/14 crop year estimated at 800 t. Output is expected to grow in volume once the majority of the young orchards start bearing crops. This will allow Uruguay to build up its export channels, which have been rather limited so far because of the small level of production.

Producer efforts and governmental policies concentrate on producing quality olive oil. Uruguay has taken part in numerous international olive oil competitions where it has made known Uruguayan olive oil and earned recognition for the quality of its product. A number of companies plan to branch out into table olive production, but for the time being output
is very small.

Owing to its low volume, the bulk of olive oil production has gone to the domestic market, which has experienced regular growth in recent years, recording an annual consumption rate of 1⁄2 kg/capita. However, the domestic market is not large enough to cope with the production generated by the areas under olives, which is why exports are the widespread goal of the industry.

Uruguay’s fledgling exports go primarily to Brazil and Central America, the United States, Canada and Japan. The growth of production will help to expand and consolidate its exports.

Table I reports the data for Uruguay over the last six crop years.
Table I. Data on olive growing in Uruguay (tonnes)

The Asociación Olivícola Uruguaya (ASOLUR, the Uruguayan Olive Growing Association), represents 85 pc of domestic production and encompasses every branch of the national industry.

Source IOC market newsletter august 2013

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