Canaan Fair Trade - the largest fair-trade supplier of olive oil in the Middle East

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A world renowned venture unknown in Israel

Canaan Fair Trade came into being and has grown and flourished entirely removed from the Israeli efforts in this domain, and it has actually surpassed the Israeli initiatives, going unnoticed by the local food industry. Canaan is virtually unknown in the Israeli arena of food companies and retailers. And if you wonder where it is known; well, the brand name is widely recognized among international bodies engaged in fair trade and social investments.

Since it began operations in 2005, Canaan Fair Trade has succeeded in bringing 2,149 Palestinian farmers under its umbrella. Its sales volume for 2013 reached 321 tons of olive oil, yielding revenues of $4.1 million. Yet, impressive as the figures may seem, they represent a certain decline compared to Canaan’s peak year of 2011, when its sales volume totaled 440 tons of olive oil, yielding revenues of $4.7 million. These figures make Canaan the largest fair-trade venture in Israel — or in Palestine — its officially announced base of operations. In fact, according to its founder and managing director, Palestinian-American businessman Nasser Abufarha, Canaan Fair Trade is the largest fair-trade enterprise in the Middle East, and the largest fair-trade supplier of olive oil in the world.

Canaan Fair Trade was conceived in 2003, at a conference organized by Abufarha on behalf of local olive growers in the Palestinian Authority. Many of the olive growers attending the conference voiced their interest in the model presented by Abufarha, who had been exposed to the model of fair trade in the course of his doctoral studies at the University of Wisconsin in the Unites States. Abufarha then went on to establish Canaan, basing it on three fundamental guidelines — the traditional principle of financial profitability, supplemented by the guiding principles of social profitability and environmental sustainability.

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