TUNISIA – The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has dished out a TND 20 million (US$7.19 million) loan to Compagnie Générale des Industries Alimentaires (COGIA SA), one of Tunisia’s largest producer and export of olive oil.
COGIA is a subsidiary of United Arab Emirates-based IFFCO Group, with a diversified portfolio of value-added sustainable foods, consumer products and services across the Middle East, Africa, southeast Asia and Europe.
The funds will enable the producer of Rahma, Allegro and SanMarco brands, to grow its sourcing, bottling and exports of Tunisian olive oil.
Currently the company sells its products to more than 40 countries and has visibility over the entire manufacturing process to ensure the products are of high quality.
The EBRD loan will further support the development of the sector which is of strategic importance to the Tunisian economy, with a view to promoting regional integration, strengthening export competitiveness, and bolstering national economic growth.
The bank has been involved in the Tunisian olive oil sector since 2012 and, to date, has financed six projects, including an initial loan to COGIA in 2017.
In 2015, it joined a sectoral working group in Tunisia along with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and other stakeholders.
The group’s main objectives are to foster public-private dialogue on sectoral organisation, review the value chain with a focus on quality enhancement and establish an action plan to support the implementation of an over-arching olive-oil strategy.
Since the start of its operations in Tunisia in 2012, the EBRD has invested close to €1.35 billion in 54 projects in the country. The Bank has also provided technical assistance to more than 1,400 small Tunisian businesses.
The North African country is one of the five largest olive-oil producers globally. The government anticipates a rebound in the sector in 2021/2022 season.
According to the latest figures from the Ministry of Agriculture, the country is expected to produce 240,000 tonnes of olive oil from a harvest of 1.2 million tonnes of the fruit.
This forecast marks an increase of 100,000 tonnes compared to the volume of the previous year which came from a stock of 700,000 tonnes of olive.
While these figures may still change depending on weather conditions, the sector will capitalize on the favourable outlook on the production side to increase its exports during the new marketing season which will open next November.
Regarding the provisional balance sheet for the 2020/2021 season, exports concerned 178,000 tonnes of olive oil for a value of 1.45 billion dinars (US$ 513.6 million) at the end of July.