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 and 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 (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 in April 2015 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 AND FAIR TRADER
In March 2017, Fair Trader organised a special night to bring the Flavours of Palestine to the Yorkshire village of Brockholes. Before enjoying a delicious meal and musical entertainment, over fifty ticket-holders listened to Zaytoun’s Taysir Arbasi speak movingly about how Fairtrade is helping hard-working Palestinian olive and almond farmers to find markets for their high quality produce.
ZAYTOUN’S IMPACT IN THE REGION
Any profits Zaytoun makes are invested in product development in partnership with their suppliers; in local support projects run by farmer organisations; in acquiring more stock; and in helping support a volunteer harvesting team. Wherever possible, Zaytoun ensures that all labelling and packaging takes place in the Palestinian Territories, consequently creating further employment opportunities in a region saddled with chronic unemployment and poverty. The products are both a celebration and an affirmation of deep-rooted Palestinian culture, so important to a people whose isolation is imposed by a military occupation. The products also help to build bonds beyond barriers of faith; 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.