|This article relies on references to primary sources. (January 2007)|
Taragüí —after the Guaraní name of Corrientes Province, in northeastern Argentina— is a popular brand of yerba mate in Argentina, also available in many other countries in South America, in Spain, and others where mate is also enjoyed. It is planted, harvested and manufactured in eastern Corrientes by Establecimiento Las Marías, one of the largest companies in the sector, which also markets several other brands —Unión, La Merced and La Mañanita—, as well as tea and other beverages.
Las Marías has marketed disposable kits containing a plastic gourd, a mate straw and 35 g of Taragüí yerba, to allow preparation of the beverage without the traditional utensils, under the trade label Mate listo ("ready mate") since 1992; they have met with limited success, but remain part of the brand's offer, which also includes several flavoured blends.
The brand logo draws upon the name's origin, depicting the name superimposed on a map of Corrientes.
Establecimiento las Marías & Taragüí
The Navajas family, which owns Las Marias, started the mate operation in 1924 on their cattle estancia with 38 hectares of planted mate. The raw material was and, largely still is, produced by small holders and subsequently bought by processors and packers. Most small producers cannot be relied on to deliver a consistent raw material. Production at Las Marias expanded over the years to the present 4,000 hectares of mate, which complements the 2,000 hectares of tea. Tea harvesting is completely mechanized and a high percentage of mate. Both mate and tea are processed and packed on site in Gdor. Virasoro, a town in Corrientes Province. Currently, there are more than 60 Maisa machines running, primarily for tea, but not exclusively, and 14 machines packing loose mate and two Fontana machines packing compressed mate, primarily for the Middle East market. Distribution and exports are handled in Buenos Aires.
Production at Establecimiento Las Marias is vertically integrated, starting with either seedbeds or cuttings from the most productive trees. Raw material is also sourced from vetted growers who are constantly monitored by company technicians both at the farm and at the buying stations. Some highlights of innovation are the development of instant mate in 1964, packing mate in tea bags in 1966, development of high density planting in 1973 and mechanical harvesting in 1981. Product development has continued with the market segmentation created by ‘Union’ the first light flavored mate in 1982, with Taragui Mate Listo in 1992, which is mate-to-go in a disposable container, needing only water, with a low caffeine product called ’Relax, which has a percentage of Ilex Dumosa, a variety with no caffeine which was made commercially viable by Las Marias agricultural engineers, and “Bio” the first yerba mate with natural prebiotics.
Exports from Argentina
Of the 310,000 tons produced, 40,000 tons are exported, both in bulk and packed. With a 45% market share, Las Marias is the leader of the packed (branded) segment, which is 7,000 tons. Las Marias has taken the strategic decision to only sell branded products, either domestically or for export. Other companies exporting packed mate are Don Basilio and La Chacchuera. Many companies export bulk mate primarily, to Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay but also to Syria and Lebanon. North America, Europe and parts of Asia are growing markets for both forms of exports. Bulk mate is used both as the raw material for brands and as an ingredient in other products, such as energy drinks. The Middle East, accounting for roughly 60% of exports, is such a major market because there was a reverse migration in the 1950s. Those who returned had been in Argentina for several generations and had therefore picked up the local habits, such as drinking mate in the traditional way. New markets are being developed in Europe and in North America. Most of the new markets are teabag ones, but Poland is an exception. There, traditional mate is a seen as quick and easy adventurous experience, perhaps similar to smoking a hookah, which also has an inherent social component.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Ilex paraguariensis|
- "Argentine Mate at Las Marías". YerbanLegend. Retrieved 23 November 2007.
- "Las Marías: Master in tea". Conexión Brando. Retrieved 23 November 2011.
- "Yerba Mate Suppliers of Herbal Infusions". Yerba Mate Limited. Retrieved 3 November 2004.
- "Processing Mate". Establecimiento Las Marías. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
- "FAO". Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Retrieved 16 October 2011.
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