First Sfax international olive oil business meetings kickoff
09/11/2016 19:08, TUNIS/Tunisia
(TAP) - The 1st Sfax international olive oil business meetings, organised by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, with support from the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) Programme kicked off Wednesday
In addition to official representatives of four foreign embassies in Tunisia (China, Turkey, Spain and South Africa), the event saw a significant participation of importers and purchasing groups from 11 countries.
Foreign importers participating in this event come from countries that are promising markets for Tunisian olive oil (Russia, Canada, United States, Great Britain, Brazil, Thailand, South Africa, India, Portugal and France).
 Speaking at the opening of the event, President of the Sfax Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Ridha Fourati, highlighted the good reputation of Tunisian olive oil in the international business spheres, outlining the programmes initiated by the Chamber to enhance this product and prospect new markets.
Mohamed Namli, CEO of an import / export company based in Russia, said in a statement to TAP correspondent, on the sidelines of the event, that Russia is a promising market for Tunisian olive oil, which enjoys great interest on the part of Russian consumers.
He also predicted an increase in Tunisian exports, especially those of olive oil, dates, fruits and vegetables, and seafood, to the Russian market after the opening of a new shipping line linking the ports of Sfax and Novorossiysk (Russia).
He also said that this line, which has been operating for a week, has allowed exporters to reduce the time needed to transport goods to Russia and to avoid passing through Genoa.
US agricultural expert Paul Miller considered that Tunisia has developed important traditions in the production of extra virgin olive oil, which is highly appreciated in such countries as China, the United States, Japan, Australia, Germany, for its curative properties, its quality and its taste.
He also stressed the importance of valorising the Tunisian olive oil and ensuring its compliance with international standards, noting that the chosen orientation of developing organic oil is a good choice that must be consolidated.
For his part, Omar Béhi, Secretary of State for Agricultural Production raised problems related to the variability of olive oil production which generates a variability in the export of olive oil.
He stressed the need to redouble efforts to improve the yield and quality and valorise this product, by developing, in particular, the packaging of olive oil, which remains below expectations.
In this connection, he said the government is working to regenerate olive groves and develop their yield through the planting of 10 million olive trees, in addition to the measures and incentives provided for in the new law and which will further stabilize olive oil production.
The Secretary of State also recalled the importance of the Tunisian olive sector which has 80 thousand olive trees, making Tunisia the second largest producer of olive oil after Spain, with exports accounting for 44% of exports which in turn account for 70% of agricultural production.
Chokri Bayoudh, CEO of the National Oil Board (ONH), said Tunisia's olive oil sector could take advantage of opportunities to achieve a qualitative leap in production and export, which would make it a sector with a knock-on effect on the national economy and social development.
The event saw a large professional exhibition of olive products, representing the different stages of olive production, from collection to export, through processing, packaging and valorisation.
27 Tunisian companies operating in the olive sector participated in this exhibition. They will have the exclusive right to participate in partnerships planned with importers and foreign purchasing groups participating in this event.
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