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Business and Retailers Track 1: Building Partnership within Olive oil Value Chain


How can the commercialization of sustainably produced Mediterranean olive oil be facilitated?



Recent findings from Morocco's National Green Export Review (NGER), implemented in partnership by UNCTAD and the Moroccan Ministry of Environment, highlighted the potential for promoting organic and sustainable olive oil production and export as a way to preserve the environment while generating economic benefits for rural communities and positively impacting consumer health.  Stakeholder consultations held in Morocco led to the identification of promising initiatives of small producers and rural cooperatives in areas such as environmental management, value addition, income diversification and capacity building. They also revealed challenges such as waste management, obstacles to value addition, and constraints related to marketing capacity and limited development of the domestic market.


Building on lessons learned from the Moroccan NGER, this session brought together Mediterranean stakeholders from all levels of the olive oil value chain, to share experiences and identify potential actions and partnership opportunities to advance the sustainable consumption and production of olive oil in the Mediterranean region.



What did we aim at?

The main objectives of the session are to:

  1. Highlight the linkages between sustainable production and consumption of olive oil, Mediterranean culture and green exports
  2. Present promising large-scale and grass roots initiatives, and innovative business strategies in the area of green production, consumer awareness and export promotion
  3. Facilitate experience sharing and networking, and to identify potential actions and partnership ideas that can advance sustainable consumption and production of Mediterranean olive oil


The session is organized by UNCTAD with the participation of the Foreing Trade Association (FTA), la Société l'Oleastre, Ely Séide and the Coopérative Agricole Ariaf Kissane.

The session intended to lead to the formulation of a collectively devised set of actions to promote and facilitate the commercialization of sustainably produced Mediterranean olive oil. These recommendations will be presented in a summary document which will be widely disseminated by UNCTAD.




Main moderator: Malick KANE (UNCTAD)




The session presented how the different actors of the olive oil industry and governments can promote the sustainability of the industry, and how such efforts can generate environmental, economical and social benefits.


Malick Kane is a member of UNCTAD’s (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) where he works on issues related to green production and export. He is been involved in the National Green Export Review of Morocco which focused on olive oil and medicinal and aromatic plants sectors. Malick presented the main findings of the national action plan in Morocco to promote green exports, mainly the competitiveness of sustainable olive oil, the positive impact on rural communities, the contribution to climate change adaptation and biodiversity conservation, the need for strengthening producer capacity and organization, and the need for increased consumer awareness.



Souhad Azennoud, co-founder and Trainer of Agro-ecology at the Cooperative Agricole Ariaf Kissane (Morocco). She is co-founder of Ariaf Kissane in Taounate province (Morocco), a ten-year old cooperative; she introduced Agroecotourism to her region since 2008, and has also contributed to the constitution of two other cooperatives in the same province.

Souad presented the main challenges of the Taounate, like the soil erosion, water scarcity, loss of biodiversity and traditional know-how, poverty and rural exodus, illegal production of cannabis and scarce infrastructure for rural tourism.

With regard to the main challenges of the olive oil sector, Souad highlighted the commercialization with a faire price, the increase of the yields, the olive mill waste water and the management of the cooperatives.

She also mentioned the best agro-ecologic practices that can be implemented to increase the sustainability of the sector, and the promotion of agro-tourism and new cooperatives in apiculture and of local products as promising avenues of work.  She is currently  working in a project to create a cooperative for women willing to preserve local seeds.

Finally she insisted in the necessity of capacity building for the farmers.



Read Tahiri, general manager of the company L’OLEASTRE (Morocco), presented the company, with a surface of 48 Ha and a biological production in course of authorization. They produce the oil OLEALYS, with a small production of around 14 tones. The company gives as well capacity building to Moroccan farmers and students.

Due to the small production, in order to survive financially, they must produce a premium quality olive oil with the best practices in the farm and in the mill and seek export markets willing to pay the extra quality.  The Moroccan internal market does not appreciate the organoleptic properties of this kind of olive oil due to the fact that they are used to the taste of olive oil produced with traditional techniques and practices that do no maximize the qualities of the oil.

As main challenges, he mentioned the difficulty to commercialize a Moroccan brand abroad and the competitiveness of the Moroccan olive oil in general. They have been awarded with different international prizes.


Zena Ely Séide, CEO at ELY SÉIDE olive oil (Tunisia), presented herself as a micro-producer with only a production of 6 – 8 tones of olive oil.  She recognized she that cannot compete on prices with large exporters or intensive producers, but they brand their product in exclusive “boutique? markets thanks to the high quality of its product, using traditional techniques as hand picking, using no pesticides, no irrigation or fuel driven machines in the orchard. She demanded I this sense a certified labelling for this kind of environmentally friendly production.

As main challenges in Tunisia/South Mediterranean she mentioned the necessity to develop cooperatives to lower costs by centralizing materials, fertilizers, transport, etc, and develop Protected Designations of Origin (PDO) and Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) to promote varieties produced in the South Mediterranean.


Teresa Pérez Millan, general manager of the Spanish olive oil association, presented the figures regarding production/export/import of the Spanish olive oil. She highlighted that around 25% of the surface of olive trees is integrated production (not 100% ecological production but applying environmentally respectful techniques), and around 30% of the total surface of olive trees is irrigated, all with drip irrigation technique. She presented the Spanish Olive Oil Association, formed by different stakeholders (farmers, cooperatives, industry, commercial, etc.) with the aim to ameliorate the different aspects of the organization of the sector. The Spanish olive oil industry is one of the most dynamic of the food sector, and it is an important economic motor in the country. They devote important resources to Research & Development and Innovation, including agronomic research, and they promote as well different campaigns for olive oil consumption promotion in Spain and abroad.


Verónica Rubio, BSCI (Business Social Compliance Initiative) at Foreign Trade Association (FTA), lawyer specialized in international trade and human rights, presented the FTA, the leading business association of European and international commerce that promotes the values of free trade and sustainable supply chains. FTA represents over 1,800 retailers, importers and brand manufacturers to promote and defend international trade and supports their international business by providing information and practical solutions towards sustainability in the international supply chain. As Key sustainability issues in the olive oil value chain, she mentioned the occupational health and safety at olive oil mills, the migrant workers, the soil erosion, the waste and chemicals into water bodies. She mentioned that sustainability must include human and labour rights as well.