Press Releases

IFC Supports Growth of Palestinian Olive Oil Industry

In Bethlehem:
Riham Mustafa
Phone: +202 24 619 140

Bethlehem, West Bank, June 3, 2010—IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, said today it was launching the second phase of a project that is helping olive oil bottling and export companies in the West Bank improve their competitiveness, enhance compliance with international standards, and increase their presence in global markets.

IFC’s West Bank Olive Oil Supply Chain Development Project was originally launched in 2006 and helped eight olive oil companies – representing the majority of the sector in West Bank – develop their supply chain, improve product quality, and increase export growth.

The second phase of the program, which will run through January 2012, will help the same companies access international markets, and obtain financing. The project will also help the companies find ways to use byproducts from olive oil processing and reduce any negative environmental impacts.

The program has already scored several successes, including  helping five companies gain certification in accordance with international food standards, and training more than 110 employees of bottling companies and their suppliers on testing, packing, and export procedures for olive oil.

Ali Anabtawi, CEO of Near East Industries and Trade Co. said, “The certification we received with the support of IFC has been crucial in helping us penetrate new markets and build legitimacy with large, international retail clients.”

Olive oil production is a major driver of economic growth in the West Bank and Gaza, where it accounts for five percent of GDP and employs more than 100,000 families directly and indirectly. IFC expects that its intervention will help the sector increase exports in 2014 by an amount equal to $1.5 million today – around 30 percent of current annual exports.

Lars Thunell, IFC Executive Vice President and CEO, said, “Supporting the West Bank and Gaza’s vital agriculture sector helps create jobs and economic opportunity in the territories. IFC is helping olive producers overcome constraints such as a lack of financing and marketing know-how.”

IFC is helping the eight companies in the following areas:

       Increase their compliance with international food standards and
       Implement basic traceability programs
       Establish a framework for marketing Palestinian olive oil for export
       Obtain access to finance

       Improve their environmental performance through waste minimization and recycling, as well as utilization of industry byproducts.

About IFC

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, creates opportunity for people to escape poverty and improve their lives. We foster sustainable economic growth in developing countries by supporting private sector development, mobilizing capital for private enterprise, and providing advisory and risk mitigation services to businesses and governments. Our new investments totaled $14.5 billion in fiscal 2009, helping channel capital into developing countries during the financial crisis. For more information, visit