Co-op launches ethical olive oil

Fairtrade Palestinian olive oil is being stocked in Co-op stores — another Fairtrade first for the Movement.

The Equal Exchange Fairtrade Palestinian Extra Virgin Olive Oil is also the first Palestinian product to receive Fairtrade certification and it will be available in around 300 Co-op stores from March 22nd at £5.99 a bottle.

The announcement was timed to coincide with the start of Fairtrade Fortnight on February 23rd, when Palestinian olive oil producer, Mahmoud Issa, launched the product at the Co-operative Group’s Archway store in London, along with Minister for International Development, Mike Foster, and Harriet Lamb, Chief Executive Officer of the Fairtrade Foundation.

The Minister said: “I am very pleased to attend the launch of the first Fairtrade-certified Palestinian olive oil. Trade is one of the most important ways in which a country can lift itself out of poverty and I hope that many more Palestinian products will appear on our shelves in the future. 

“Fairtrade certification means that shoppers will now be able to buy the product safe in the knowledge that their purchase will ensure that the producers are getting a fair price for a product that helps them earn a living for them and their families." 

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has also welcomed the announcement. He said: “I’m delighted that, at the beginning of Fairtrade Fortnight, Fairtrade-certificated Palestinian olive oil is to go on sale in British supermarkets.

“Olive oil production plays an essential part in the West Bank economy. In buying this oil, British shoppers will be helping the farmers of Palestine to make a living.”

Initially some 265 growers will benefit from Fairtrade status, but the intention is to bring as many growers as possible into the scheme through the registered small farmers’ co-operatives, which include some 1,700 growers.

Nasser Abufarha, founder and director of the Palestine Fair Trade Producers’ Company, which has played a key part in achieving Fairtrade accreditation, said: “This is a ground-breaking move and the importance to us of having the first Palestinian Fairtrade product on sale nationally at The Co-operative cannot be under-estimated.” 

Brad Hill, Fairtrade Strategic Development Manager for The Co-operative Group, commented: “The Co-operative has supported Fairtrade since its inception, because we believe international trade has an unparalleled capacity to lift people out of poverty and enhance the quality of lives across the world. 

“This is a particularly significant development, given the circumstances of many of the Palestinian olive growers.  Fairtrade certification should make an enormous difference to them, and we are delighted to be the first supermarket to be taking the first Fairtrade product to come out of Palestine.”

The internationally-recognised FAIRTRADE Mark will increase access to global markets for the producer groups and exporters. 

The Fairtrade standards, which include regionally-based minimum prices for both organic and conventional olive oil, will enable communities to earn more sustainable incomes and improve future prospects for their communities. 

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