Tunisia Works With Producers to Add Value to Branded Exports

Olive oil exporters in Tunisia hope to double exports of bottled olive oil in the next five years. The government plans to help by easing bureaucratic hurdles and promoting quality.
Zeytin Reserve
By Paolo DeAndreis
Mar. 10, 2021 12:19 UTC

The Tunisian Ministry of Agriculture, Water Resources and Fisheries antic­i­pates a sig­nif­i­cant boost to olive oil exports due to the dig­i­tal­iza­tion of bureau­cratic approvals and new prod­uct labels.

According to Minister Mohamed Fadhel Kraiem, pro­duc­ers and the gov­ern­ment must pri­or­i­tize pack­ag­ing Tunisian olive oil with local labels to add value to oils des­tined for export by clearly iden­ti­fy­ing their ori­gin.

The long-term mar­ket vision fore­sees Tunisia play­ing an increas­ingly impor­tant role in bot­tled, value-added and organic extra vir­gin olive oil on the inter­na­tional mar­ket.- Lisa Paglietti, econ­o­mist, FAO

The ini­tia­tive comes on top of sev­eral other efforts focused in recent years on help­ing local farm­ers of all sizes invest in olive oil qual­ity.

Since 2017, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) have joined Tunisian author­i­ties intend­ing to make high-qual­ity Tunisian olive oil rec­og­niz­able on inter­na­tional mar­kets.

See Also:A Pioneering Blind Sensory Panel in Tunisia

Lisa Paglietti, an FAO econ­o­mist, recently empha­sized how the ini­tia­tive has shown that even small grow­ers can become com­pet­i­tive and demon­strate a strong resilience to eco­nomic shocks, such as those brought by the COVID-19 pan­demic.

The long-term mar­ket vision fore­sees Tunisia play­ing an increas­ingly impor­tant role in bot­tled, value-added and organic extra vir­gin olive oil on the inter­na­tional mar­ket,” she said.

Tunisia is one of the two largest olive oil pro­duc­ers out­side the European Union. The other is Turkey.

In the 2019/20 sea­son, Tunisia’s olive oil yield reached a record-high 350,000 tons, while the esti­mates of the National Olive Oil Office (ONH) for the lat­est sea­son fore­see a drop to 140,000 tons. The International Olive Council esti­mates that the 2020 har­vest in Tunisia reached 120,000 tons.

Despite the pro­duc­tion drop, the country’s cham­ber of olive oil exporters said that bot­tled olive oil totals reached 27,000 tons in 2020. By 2025, local com­pa­nies expect bot­tled olive oil exports to rise to 70,000 tons per year.


Nova Vera

Kraiem has also rec­om­mended both gov­ern­ment offi­cials and local pro­duc­ers push on with the dig­i­tal­iza­tion of the export­ing oper­a­tions.

The first step, said the min­is­ter at a meet­ing with the ONH, will set up an elec­tronic com­mu­ni­ca­tion plat­form with the min­istry for com­pa­nies that need export autho­riza­tions.

The plat­form is part of a broader push by the Tunisian gov­ern­ment known as Smart Gov 2020, the national plan for devel­op­ing a more inclu­sive and acces­si­ble elec­tronic admin­is­tra­tion.

During the meet­ing, Kraiem also stressed the rel­e­vance of the ongo­ing nego­ti­a­tions with the European Union to increase the Tunisian duty-free olive oil exports to the 27-nations block.

Under this agree­ment, the coun­try cur­rently exports 56,700 tons, but local author­i­ties hope the quota will be raised to 100,000 tons. At the moment, no final deci­sion has been reached on the mat­ter.


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