The Lebanon Industry Value Chain Development (LIVCD) developed a certification program for the quality and origin of local olive oil. The program was created in cooperation with the Mediterranean Institute of Certification (IMC).
LIVCD is a $41.7 million project, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). A nation-wide survey will be conducted to examine the specifications of olive oil such as soil and quantity of fertilizer residues. A certificate is issued for each region after achieving the required criteria. Once all regions have been certified, a circular is issued to spread word that local products have acquired the international standards for export. The next phase of the project could include control appellation (AOC).
The initiative was launched during an event held on May 29, which gathered more than 70 olive oil producers, mill owners, bottlers, exporters, and representatives from agricultural cooperatives.
Certified produce will be able to use a seal from LIVCD. It will benefit the olive oil sector by facilitating producers’ access to markets, and building consumer trust in both the quality and origin of the oil, according a statement by LIVCD.
Ramez Osseiran, Chairman of the Lebanese Farmers Association in the South, said: “Local olive oil is of high quality, but the main problem is in the pressing and storage process.” He said that due to the current adopted processes, local olive oil includes high acidity, which does not comply with European and international standards.
The project provides financial support, introduces new technologies, improves marketing, and creates ties between producers, suppliers, and processors.
Jane Gleason, Chief of Party of LIVCD said: “Local producers are facing major challenges in selling their produce in local and export markets because of competition from cheaper exported oils.”
LIVCD and IMC will finalize and distribute the seal to certify producers, millers and bottlers, restaurants, and hotels. Those who obtain certification will show consumers that they work with only the highest quality of olive oil.
Osseiran said: “To help farmers enhance the quality of olive oil, awareness campaigns should be conducted within agricultural cooperatives in all regions, in order to reach the ideal process for production.”