Welcome to the UruShop yerba mate news round-up for November 2016. Here we take a look at some of the latest international yerba mate news stories from the past month.
National Yerba Mate Day Celebrated:
Argentina has marked National Yerba Mate Day. Celebrated each year on November 30th, this year’s event was accompanied by a social media campaign launched by the National Yerba Mate Institute (INYM). To emphasise the importance of mate to Argentine culture, the public were invited to share their love of mate via the hashtag #DiaNacionaldelMate. Participants included the President of Argentina Mauricio Macri who took to Twitter to express his love of the drink.
In a survey launched to coincide with the celebrations, yerba mate topped a list of products most closely associated with “being Argentine”. The beverage scored the highest with 38%. Meat came in second polling at 37%, followed by dulce de leche and wine polling at 11% and 7% respectively. Out of those surveyed, 8 out of 10 revealed they had consumed mate traditionally with a gourd and bombilla within the last 30 days. 65% said that they primarily consumed mate in the company of others, whilst 33% said that they more commonly drank it alone.
Harvest and Markets:
As reported in last month’s news bulletin, the quantity of yerba harvested in Argentina is looking likely to surpass the total of 810 million kg harvested in 2015. It is now thought that this increase is being driven by a slight growth in domestic consumption. Exports, however, are still much weaker, with the almost total loss of the Syrian market, where over 70% of Argentine yerba exports had previously been directed. Argentina itself consumes around 260 million kg of yerba per year, at an average of 6.4 kg per person annually.
Others in Argentina are less optimistic about domestic consumption rates when export markets look so glum. Argentine producers are at a disadvantage in an export market that prefers Brazilian yerba, which is at present around one thousand dollars per tonne cheaper. It has been suggested that one way of stimulating the market and guaranteeing that over production does not occur, is for the Argentine government to offer subsides on any yerba exported. Reducing the quantity harvested is simply not an option, as this would likely plunge thousands of rural workers into poverty.
Despite the decline of the Syrian market due to the ongoing conflict, Paraguayan yerba mate is still expanding in the middle east. In November Pajarito reported that it would be introducing its products to Turkey and Israel. Pajarito’s exports have recently improved by around 40%, with much of their yerba going to Spain due to significant demand from resident Paraguayans there.
Scientist’s close to revealing mate’s genome:
Researchers from the Yerba Mate Genome Sequencing Project (PRO.MATE.AR) are close to decoding all of the genes that make up the plant. Once complete the team plan to make the information freely available, a move that will significantly aid future studies in the field. It is believed that the results will finally make it possible to identify all of the antioxidants contained in yerba mate, and allow scientists to more easily isolate mate’s beneficial compounds for other purposes.
Another ongoing study looking at yerba mate’s resistance to drought may be majorly helped by the genome sequencing. Raul Maximiliano Acevedo, a scientist involved in the research, has said that at present “there is a lack of genetic information on yerba mate“.
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