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Marketing the West Bank's bounteous oil


With olive trees growing on 85 percent of its land, the West Bank is one big olive grove, says CARANA marketing consultant Charlie Stathacos. But the territory has yet to find a consistent market for its most plentiful product, though its processing and storage capacity have improved dramatically, thanks to earlier work with farmers and pressers by the the Palestinian Agribusiness Partnership Activity (PAPA). In December, Stathacos held a labeling workshop on PAPA's behalf for a dozen West Bank pressers and consolidators to explain rules such as country of origin (officially, it’s West Bank, not Palestine), nutritional information, substantiation for health claims, and the importance of attractive packaging for gourmet and premium markets. “They’re really new to getting into the export market,” Stathacos said. “Everyone was anxious to have info from the outside.” He also connected an olive oil soap maker with a US marketer and investor who specializes in global cosmetics (including shea butter products from Benin, a deal clinched in 2006 with help from the West Africa Trade Hub). The West Bank’s olive oil sector will exhibit at the Fancy Food Show in New York, June 28-30.

Published March 2009