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Olive Oil from the Holy Land

Olive oil imparts velvety smoothness to our soaps. In early 2007, Dr. Bronner’s began sourcing 90% of our olive oil needs from Palestinian producers near the West Bank town of Jenin. There, the trading firm Canaan Fair Trade was founded by Palestinians who support peaceful co-existence with Israel and see profitable olive farming as one means of improving Palestinians’ economic situation. Canaan works closely with the Palestine Fair Trade Association (PFTA), and now purchases oil from 1,700 smallholders organized in the PFTA. Dr. Bronner’s funding of the organic and Fair Trade certification by IMO boosted the project’s visibility and provided access to high-end markets in Europe and the U.S. We are also advancing funds far ahead of purchases, which helps Canaan and the PFTA to further develop processing and storage infrastructure.

Because Palestinian olive oil competes with subsidized olive oil from EU countries, oil production in the past has not been lucrative for smallholders and the local economy. But now, PFTA growers are guaranteed a minimum price to cover costs of production and receive a combined organic and Fair Trade premium of 25%. Canaan donates additional funds for education, tree planting and logistics projects. Beyond our trade relationship, Dr. Bronner’s supports Canaan with logistics and distribution contacts and provides technical support as well. Last, but not least, our cooperation with Canaan allows Palestinian growers to trade directly with growing high-value markets for organic and Fair Trade materials while redeveloping their traditional livelihoods.

The balance of our olive oil comes from Israel. Sindyanna, a Fair Trade business run by Jewish and Arab women in Israel, supports Arab-Israeli producers. And in light of the vision of peace that the olive branch symbolizes, we are also sourcing olive oil from the Jewish Israeli Strauss family farm in Israel, a pioneer in organic olive oil production.

“Our projects also show that global Fair Trade can foster direct trade relationships between small partner firms in developing countries — not just with buyers in the West. Canaan Fair Trade buys coconut oil for its soap production from Serendipol, and their olive oil will be refined by our Fair Trade organic palm oil partner in Ghana. Exchange of field officers between the projects in Sri Lanka and Ghana will transfer knowledge on organic practices and maintenance of organic integrity between these two countries that have many similarities — thus promoting cultural exchange and understanding. Hands-on participation of friends from Europe and the U.S. (architects, system designers and construction experts, for example) also offered great opportunities for direct cooperation between people from the global North and South — while working up a sweat.”

Gero Leson

Director of Special Operations
Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps

Dr. Bronner's World
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