Zaytoun is a non-profit organisation established to support Palestinian farming communities by helping to increase the market for their olive oil products internationally, and also by helping the farmers themselves improve the quality of their oil through training and equipment provision.
As a result of the current conflict, Palestinian olive farmers have faced the uprooting of many of their crops and also suffer from a lack of access to their farms due to the separation wall. Zaytoun operates within the Palestinian Occupied Territories to establish cooperatives that enable farmers to improve the quality of their oil and to highlight the impact of the conflict on poverty.
Up to 100,000 families depend upon the olive harvest for their livelihoods to some extent.
Income and investment
Since its inception in 2004, Zaytoun has imported and distributed 170 tons of olive oil to retail and wholesale customers, in addition to regional fair-trade and Palestine campaign groups. Jewish, Muslim and Christian faith groups have also taken an interest, ordering the oil for their places of worship and to sell at local stalls as part of a message of inter-faith peace promotion. Southwark Cathedral uses the olive oil for anointing in services.
Any profits Zaytoun makes are invested in product development in partnership with their suppliers, in local producer support projects run by NGOs such as Oxfam and War on Want, put straight back into acquiring more stock to meet growing demand and invested in working with a volunteer harvest team.
As the economic crisis deepens, for many the olive harvest provides their main means of survival. Between 2004 and 2009, Zaytoun sold over 170 tons of olive oil, bringing well over £1 million in income to producing communities. In addition, Zaytoun's policy of, wherever possible, ensuring all labeling and packaging takes place in the Palestinian territories, creates further employment opportunities. Zaytoun supports Palestinian producers by selling other artisan produce including dates, almonds, couscous, za’atar herbs, soap and olives. Both the olives and the oil are certified organic and Fairtrade.
Zaytoun marked Fairtrade Fortnight (23 Feb – 8 March 2009) with the launch of the first ever Fairtrade-certified olive oil and olives, direct from Palestinian farms. UK business Zaytoun CIC, a Community Interest Company, created a market for Palestinian olive oil in 2004, importing the products direct from farming communities, and launched a Fairtrade-certified range in Britain.
The Fairtrade certification of registered small farmers associations will support and encourage the Palestinian producers to work collectively and be stronger in vocalising their desire to farm in peace. The mark will also increase their access to international markets, provide opportunities to earn more sustainable incomes and improve future prospects for their communities.
Zaytoun South Africa
Zaytoun, the company that launched the world's first Fairtrade olive oil, is now giving SA citizens the chance to access Palestinian Fairtrade produce. Zaytoun is a Fair Trade company and a member of WFTO. In 2009 it launched the world’s first Fairtrade olive oil, a tribute to the hard work of the Palestinian producers and processors with whom they work.
- "Al Zaytouna awarded Fairtrade mark". waronwant.org. War on Want. 20 March 2009. Retrieved 23 November 2013.