With its fledgling olive industry, Uruguay took important steps in the international market and gained recognition at the same time.
There are plantations all over Uruguay, but 80% of the area with olive trees is located in the eastern part of the country, with the department of Maldonado, on the Atlantic Ocean coast, having the largest share. Meanwhile, 12% is located in the center and south coast and 7% in the north of the country.
So far in 2021 there has been a growth in the sector's exports, since as of September the figures are almost five times those of the whole of the previous year.
Uruguayan olive oil reaches some 10 destinations and is chosen by the most demanding international markets. Spain, perhaps the most famous olive oil producer in the world, is the main importer of this product for Uruguay, followed by Brazil. Other relevant trading partners for the country in this sector are Argentina, Germany, Paraguay and the United States.
Around 30 olive varieties are grown, including arbequina, which represents almost 50% of the plantations, in addition to coratina (21%), picual (11%) and frantoio (10%) olives, which make up 90% of the cultivated area. This diversity makes it possible to offer single-varietal virgin oils as well as blends of two or more varieties.
Uruguayan olive groves have multiplied with the help of domestic and foreign investors because, in addition to the good conditions for oil production, the strategic location facilitates access to the regional market for more than 400 million people.
Although olive growing is a relatively new activity in the country, the growing global demand for sophisticated and healthy products, created in an environmentally friendly way, opened an opportunity for the development and growth of the sector.
Part of the success of the local olive industry is due to Uruguay’s natural conditions. With a latitude similar to the Mediterranean basin, a temperate climate and great availability of fertile soils, the development of the olive is favored and results in the production of genuine, aromatic, intensely colored, fresh and 100% natural oils.
The young condition of the olive sector in Uruguay has allowed it to forge modern plantations, with the highest technology in the mills and the process. One of the differentials of local production is the intensive dry farming system applied to olive cultivation in Uruguayan farms. In addition, Uruguayan extra virgin oils are chemically analyzed and evaluated by a certified tasting panel, according to the most demanding parameters established by the International Olive Council.
The good results in olive oil production have earned Uruguay and several of its companies international recognition and awards. The Olivinus International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition, one of the four most important in the world, has repeatedly awarded prizes to Uruguayan extra virgin olive oils, while several Uruguayan companies have positioned their products in the prestigious rankings of the World’s Best Olive Oils International Organization.