Tunisian olive oil industry boosted by €5m loan

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

Tunisia’s exports could compensate for disappointing harvests seen in olive oil producing countries like Italy, where a strain of fruit fly has caused major damage to olive groves. ©iStock
Tunisia’s exports could compensate for disappointing harvests seen in olive oil producing countries like Italy, where a strain of fruit fly has caused major damage to olive groves. ©iStock

Related tags: Olive oil

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) will loan €5m to Tunisia’s olive oil producers to support the sector’s development and bolster economic growth.

The loan will be given to Sovena MENA and Tiba Foods, Tunisian subsidiaries of Sovena Group, to expand olive oil sourcing and increase production capacity of bottled olive oil for export.

Tunisia is one of the five largest olive oil producers in the world having recorded a harvest of 265,000-285,000 tonnes of olives in 2014 - more than twice the output of the previous year, according to the Tunisian Ministry of Agriculture.

Tunisia normally produces 150 to 250,000 tonnes of olive oil every year and exports about 80 to 90% of this crop.

Tunisia’s exports could help compensate for disappointing harvests seen in key EU olive oil producing countries like Italy, where a strain of fruit fly has caused major damage to olive groves.

Investment drive

money invest euros profit funding iStock MarianVejcik
EBRD investments in Tunisia's olive oil sector include the €15m financing of Borges Tunisia.©iStock/MarianVejcik

The funds form part of the EBRD’s investment drive in the country, which started in 2012. Since then it has signed off over €300m in funding for more than 25 projects in the private sector.

The Bank has also supported more than 300 Tunisian small and medium-sized enterprises by providing technical assistance.

“The Bank is committed to fostering this key sector of the Tunisian economy and is increasingly becoming one of the largest supporters with its investment and policy dialogue,” ​said Marie-Alexandra Veilleux-Laborie, EBRD head of office in Tunisia.

“After two projects in the olive oil sector in Tunisia, we are very proud to team up with Sovena Group to boost the production and export of Tunisian olive oil.”

Tunisia is the third largest exporter of olive oil in the world, after Spain and Italy and the sector accounts for 40% of the country’s agricultural exports.

However, globally consumers are unaware of this as Tunisian olive oil is mainly sold in bulk and blended with other countries’ oil, in particular Italian and Spanish olive oils.

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