EBRD fosters Tunisia’s olive oil sector

By Nibal Zgheib

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EBRD fosters Tunisia’s olive oil sector

€5 million loan to Sovena MENA and Tiba Foods

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is supporting olive oil producers in Tunisia with a €5 million loan to Sovena MENA and Tiba Foods, local subsidiaries of Sovena Group, the leading Portuguese producer and distributor of olive oil products.

Tunisia is one of the five largest olive oil producers in the world. The EBRD loan will support the development of this strategic sector of the Tunisian economy which will promote regional integration, strengthen competitiveness on external markets and bolster economic growth.

The Bank’s funds will enable the Tunisian subsidiaries to expand their sourcing of olive oil, which will deepen and strengthen their links with local olive oil mills and farmers. In addition, the loan will contribute to increasing the production of bottled olive oil for export.

Marie-Alexandra Veilleux-Laborie, EBRD Head of Office in Tunisia, said: “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. 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.”

Sovena entered Tunisia in 2008 with sourcing and bottling operations. Tunisia is a very relevant market for olive oil production, exporting and sourcing within Sovena Group on a supply basis. Tunisia produces 150 to 250,000 tonnes of olive oil every year and exports about 80 to 90 per cent of this crop.

As Duarte Guedes, Sovena’s Coordinating Director, mentions: “It is clear that the value of establishing this relationship with the EBRD does not end on the financial side of the agreement. We both are strongly committed to the support of the olive oil industry as a whole in Tunisia and understand how this kind of cooperation can result in structural and sustainable developments.”

The EBRD has been engaged in the Tunisian olive oil sector since 2012. A study on the sector was published in 2015 and a working group including the EBRD, FAO and relevant stakeholders in Tunisia, was created the same year. The main objectives of the working group are to foster the public-private discussion on the organisation of the sector, review the value chain with a focus on quality enhancement, and establish an action plan to support olive oil strategy implementation.

The EBRD has been investing in Tunisia since 2012 and has funded more than 25 projects in the private sector for a total of over €300 million. The Bank has also supported more than 300 Tunisian small and medium-sized enterprises by providing technical assistance.

About Sovena Group:

Sovena Group is the leading Portuguese producer and distributor of olive oil and oilseeds oils, olives and soap, with facilities in seven countries and exports to over 70 countries in Europe, Africa and the Americas. The group is the world’s largest private label supplier of olive oil and is increasingly developing its own brands (for example, Olivari, Fontoliva, and so on). Sovena sources its olives from its own plantations, as well as from third parties.

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