` Olive Oil Producers in Lebanon Benefit from Reduced Syrian Imports

Africa / Middle East

Producers in Lebanon Benefit from Reduced Syrian Imports

Nov. 27, 2012
By Vikas Vij

Recent News

Olive oil pro­duc­ers and olive grow­ers in Lebanon are receiv­ing unex­pected sup­port in the mar­ket due to poorer imports from war-torn Syria. An increase of nearly 20 per­cent in the local mar­ket prices of olive oil has helped Lebanese olive farm­ers and olive oil pro­duc­ers sus­tain their busi­nesses despite increases in pro­duc­tion costs.

Syria’s con­tin­u­ing civil war con­di­tions have made it more dif­fi­cult and expen­sive to ship olive oil across the bor­der. At the same time, Lebanon has man­aged to pro­duce qual­ity olive oil this year. The com­bined effect has been a boost for the local olive oil indus­try, despite ongo­ing chal­lenges of the dump­ing of low-grade olive oil.

Lebanon’s Min­is­ter for Agri­cul­ture, Hus­sein Hajj Hasan, has announced that the gov­ern­ment will be pur­chas­ing 100,000 20-liter olive oil can­is­ters. Hajj Hasan is also look­ing at the pos­si­bil­ity of reviv­ing olive oil coop­er­a­tives and cer­ti­fy­ing Lebanese olive oil as organic, which will pro­vide a boost to the sec­tor.

One of the key chal­lenges that the local olive oil sec­tor in Lebanon still faces is the lack of stan­dards enforced by the gov­ern­ment, which leaves the mar­ket vul­ner­a­ble to the onslaught of sub­stan­dard, or forged, olive oils. The mar­ket­ing and dis­tri­b­u­tion net­work for olive oil is weak, which pre­vents the farm­ers from sell­ing their pro­duce at the right prices.

Some enter­pris­ing Lebanese olive oil com­pa­nies such as Olive­Trade are try­ing to per­form against all odds by focus­ing on exports to high-end mar­kets. OliveTrade’s high-qual­ity olive oil brand Zejd” has found accep­tance in qual­ity con­scious mar­kets such as France, U.K., Kuwait, Canada and Japan. Lebanon pro­duces just under 100,000 tons of olive oil annu­ally.

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