`Egyptian Producer Sees More Demand for Pesticide-Free Olive Oil - Olive Oil Times

Egyptian Producer Sees More Demand for Pesticide-Free Olive Oil

By Julie Butler
Dec. 6, 2022 21:01 UTC

Khalil Nasrallah

Consumers are clam­or­ing for pes­ti­cide-free ahead of organic olive oil, accord­ing to Egyptian pro­ducer Wadi Food.

Giza-based exec­u­tive man­ager Khalil Nasrallah says the com­pany receives far more inquiries about its pes­ti­cide-free than its cer­ti­fied organic ones. It’s dif­fi­cult to jus­tify the price dif­fer­ences between organic and con­ven­tional,” he said.

Organic is a plus but not always nec­es­sary. Our cus­tomers con­sider the olive tree, and the olive grove as organic’ and there­fore expect the olive prod­ucts to be the same even with­out cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. It is under­stood that pes­ti­cides in oil are impos­si­ble to wash off and since olive oil is not treated in any way, it is extremely impor­tant to start with pes­ti­cide-free olives,” he told Olive Oil Times.

While the com­pany is in no way aban­don­ing its organic pro­duc­tion, it is expand­ing its pes­ti­cide-free line and using GLOBALG.A.P for cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

Customers want to make sure the oil is free from pes­ti­cides. Certificates are impor­tant but analy­sis is even more impor­tant. Third party inspec­tions are requested fre­quently to make sure that the oil is pes­ti­cide free prior to ship­ping. It Is the same for table olives as well,” Nasrallah said.

Producing pes­ti­cide-free olive oil is not hard in Egypt because, the weather is very con­ve­nient for organic pest con­trol and use of preda­tors,” he said. The com­pany uses meth­ods that leave no residues in the oil, accord­ing to Nasrallah, and it uses only olives grown in its own groves. It is the best way to guar­an­tee com­plete trace­abil­ity.”

The high cost of organic olive oil

Nasrallah said that all the prac­tices involved in organic cul­ti­va­tion — and the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion itself – made it pricey. Certification of agri­cul­ture cou­pled with cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of the pro­cess­ing facil­ity make it twice as costly to get cer­ti­fied organic than fresh pro­duce on its own.”

And while syn­thetic fer­til­iz­ers are cheap, read­ily avail­able and easy to spread through fer­ti­ga­tion, organic fer­til­iz­ers are expen­sive to buy and com­post is very expen­sive to pro­duce and to dis­trib­ute to the trees. With only organic fer­til­iz­ers we get some­times 25 to 30 per­cent lower yields.”

Buying local is best

Nasrallah also warns that organic olive oil is often not con­sumed in its coun­try of ori­gin but imported from dis­tant coun­tries. The ship­ping of this oil to these mar­kets is made at the high cost of burn­ing fos­sil fuels and defeat­ing the pur­pose of organic pro­duc­tion val­ues. As an organic olive grower, I want the con­sumer to be as con­cerned about the envi­ron­ment as I would be, and to buy my organ­i­cally cer­ti­fied olives and olive oil. This works per­fectly well within the local mar­ket. But when we export, the car­bon foot­print is high and the whole organic value chain weak­ens and becomes ques­tion­able.”

Wadi Food is cur­rently cul­ti­vat­ing an addi­tional 956 hectares of below sea level land located west of the Nile Delta.

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