Our Suppliers’ Stories – Zaytoun

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Zaytoun is a non-profit organisation and Community Interest Company founded in 2004. Its founding mission was to create a UK market for artisan Palestinian producers who had lost their olive oil export markets since the intifada, and it now focuses on growing that market for a wide range of products. Zaytoun supports Palestinian co-operatives that enable farmers to improve the quality of their products whilst highlighting the corrosive impact of the perennial conflict on sustainable livelihoods and community resilience.

Wherever possible, Zaytoun products are fully certified by the Soil Association Organic Standard. In 2009 Zaytoun launched the world’s first ever Fairtrade certified olive oil. In addition to its famous olive oil, Zaytoun also produces a range of other authentic Palestinian products including succulent Medjoul dates from the sun-drenched Jordan Valley, za’atar (a tasty herb and spice mixture popular across the Middle East), almonds, freekeh (durum wheat harvested while still green, roasted on an open fire, then rubbed to remove the husk. Easy to use in dishes such as pilaf, risotto and salad), sundried tomatoes and maftoul (which is a delicious, nutty wholegrain alternative to couscous and rice); all of which can be purchased together as part of the Fair Trader’s Palestinian Hamper, sold both in-store and online.

ZAYTOUN IN THE MEDIA

Zaytoun’s Manal Ramadan and Taysir Arbasi were interviewed on the 16th of April by the BBC World Service on “Doing Business in Conflict Zones”. Reporter Venetia Rainey spoke to Zaytoun and discussed what it takes to keep a business running profitably amid a conflict-ridden region.

You can listen to the full interview here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02nr01j

ZAYTOUN’S IMPACT IN THE REGION

Any profits Zaytoun makes are invested in product development in partnership with their suppliers, and in local producer support projects run by farmer organisations. The profits are also put back into acquiring more stock to meet the growing demand and are invested in helping support a volunteer harvesting team. Zaytoun also helps support Palestinian producers by, wherever possible, ensuring that all labelling and packaging takes place in the Palestinian Territories. As a consequence, any added value created in transforming the primary product into a secondary commodity, helps create further employment opportunities in a region saddled by chronic unemployment and poverty. Furthermore, the products are both a celebration and an affirmation of the deep-rooted Palestinian culture, so important to a people whose isolation is imposed by a military occupation.

By purchasing Zaytoun’s products you are helping support the resilience of disadvantaged farming communities. The products also help to build bonds beyond barriers of faith; indeed, Jewish, Muslim and Christian groups have ordered Zaytoun’s oil for their places of worship and to sell at local stalls as part of a positive message of inter-faith peace promotion.

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