By Daniel Williams
Olive Oil Times Contributor | Reporting from Barcelona
UNIDO, The United Nations Industrial Development Organization, has played a key role the recent surge in Moroccan olive oil output, helping the country emerge as a key player on the global olive oil scene and drawing increased international investment. UNIDO’s proclaimed mission statement is to, “promote and accelerate sustainable industrial development in economies in transition.”
UNIDO has worked with small scale Moroccan producers to improve existing modes of production, improve organization and hygiene, and market local products professionally in order to increase the added value of Moroccan olive oil.
The country experienced a strong olive harvest in 2009 with the help of UNIDO intervention. This increased the quality and therefore price of the olive oil in production and the United Nations agency is now actively building on last year’s success. The 2010 campaign has seen UNIDO upgrade and repair outdated machinery and facilities and the agency has also offered logistical advice to Moroccan producers with respect to distribution and issues surrounding international expansion.
With the expertise and technical support of UNIDO, Moroccan average annual olive oil output of 95,000 tons is drawing interest from investors worldwide. Predictions for 2010 are even more optimistic. With the support of UNIDO, the Moroccan Company GIE Terroir de Maroc Oriental was recently awarded first prize by the country’s Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and this unique extra virgin olive oil is likely to enter international competitions in the near future.
Over 90% of Moroccan olive oil is extracted from the Picholine olive, “recognized worldwide for its mild, yet full, fruity flavor and hint of bitterness.” Following other international marketing efforts from countries like Spain and Argentina, this year with the cooperation of the ministry of Agriculture and the patronage of His Majesty Mohammed VI, the Moroccan government showcased the unique flavor of Maghrebi olive oil to an international audience in the nation’s biggest agricultural event known as the Salon International de l’Agriculture au Maroc.
Morocco is currently the world’s 6th largest producer of olive oil behind Spain, Italy, Greece, Tunisia, Syria, and Turkey but with the continued help from UNIDO and increased investments from international courters in Italy and Spain, Morocco is ready to expand its trade networks and is well-positioned to meet a global demand for olive oil that grows steadily each year.