Considering the economic value of the oil that is imported into Brazil every year, not to mention the equally large market for imported olives themselves, it's only natural that Brazilian agriculturalists and botanists have turned their thoughts to the possibilities of creating a domestic market in olives and olive oils. It has long been thought that Brazil didn't offer the climatic or soil conditions that the olive tree requires to grow and bear fruit. The area around the Mediterranean Sea, where the tree flourishes, is known for dry, sandy soil, hot and arid summers, and cool and damp winters. Brazil, with its tropical soil, year-round heat and high levels of humidity was thought to be inimical to olive tree cultivation.
It is true that large portions of Brazil, such as the jungles of the Amazon River basin, or the semi-arid northeast, just cannot support olive cultivation. But other regions of Brazil offer interesting possibilities, and research scientists have begun a number of agricultural research studies and tests to try to find the right combination of climatic conditions and olive tree cultivars to build a Brazilian olive oil industry from scratch. The preliminary results are very encouraging.
|Maria da Fé, Minas Gerais|
In 2008 the first viable harvest from the groves at Maria da Fé yielded one ton of olives, resulting in 200 liters of oil. In 2009, the harvest yielded 500 liters of oil, and in 2010 about 1000 liters. The scientific analysis of the oil from Maria da Fé is very encouraging. The oil is very low in acidity (0.39%), an important factor in valuing olive oil, as the acidity can be no more than (0.80%) for an oil to be considered extra-virgin.
Although the quantity of oil produced so far by Epamig is miniscule, groves have been planted in a number of locations with climate and soil conditions similar to those at Maria da Fé, and these groves will begin producing shortly. Farmers in the states of Minas Gerais, Rio Grande do Sul and São Paulo, realizing the economic potential of olive cultivation have planted hundreds of thousands of trees, anticipating the future market for domestic olive oil.
|Epamig Olive Oil|
Though the Brazilian olive oil industry is still very much in its infancy, one would be forgiven if one said that its future looks golden - olive-oil golden.