Chilean Olive Oil
Chile is a long sliver of a country in southwestern South America with a striking, diverse geography that makes it ideal for the production of quality, traceable foods. Known for its budget-friendly and highly-rated wines, Chile is currently developing new gourmet products oriented to niche markets. In recent years, extra virgin olive oil joined the list of Chilean globally-acclaimed products.
Chile’s unique geography protects its agriculture from potential hazards coming from other countries. Its natural boundaries — the driest desert in the world (north), the Pacific Ocean (west), the Andean range (east) and the Patagonia (south) — create a shelter that generates optimal growing conditions. Chile also boasts climate and soil conditions closely matching those of the Mediterranean Basin, cradle of the olive tree. Olive plantations extend from the Azapa Valley, on the north, to Malleco on the south. This vast territory is noted for fertile soils, high degree of sunlight exposure and significant nighttime/daytime temperature differentials -conditions highly conducive to olive cultivation.
Chilean extra virgin olive oil is born from delicate and attentive harvesting methods that preserve the olives’ natural integrity. In fact, Chilean extra virgin olive oils have acidity levels as low as 0.2% (extra virgin olive oil has a maximum acidity of 0.8% anything above that is classified as just virgin). Streamlined New World production allows Chilean olives to go from tree to bottle in less than 24 hours. Producers orchestrate the entire process from when the olives are picked, cold-pressed and bottled right at the orchard, until it arrives fresh at consumers’ tables where it can be enjoyed drizzled over thick-crust bread with a touch of sea salt.
In addition to leveraging a propitious geography, the olive oil industry has brought in cutting-edge technology and a selection of the best olive varieties. The result is a final product of outstanding quality that holds its own against the best in the world. About 95% of Chile’s olive groves produce only extra virgin oil in single variety, blend, organic, or conventional formats. Due to their nutritional properties, these products are in much demand around the globe. In fact, recent data reports that exports to the United States increased by 120% in the span of four years (2010-2014), making the United States the country’s second largest olive oil market.
Chilean oil has become well-known around the world for its quality. In recent years Chilean olive oils have racked up awards in internationally recognized olive oil competitions throughout Italy, Spain and the United States.