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October 29, 2014

Specialty Food Association: Canaan Fair Trade Reports Strong Harvest, New Products for 2015.


Despite difficult conditions, the Palestinean farmers and growers behind the Canaan Fair Trade brand of products are seeing an overall strong harvest in 2014.

A recent Washington Post article highlighted the conflict-based issues Palestinean farmers face in the West Bank, including attacks by Israeli settlers on their olive groves. In the midst of harvest season, Canaan Fair Trade founder Nasser Abufarha reports that despite those challenges, and an overall 18 percent decline in Palestine's harvest, Canaan Fair Trade is experiencing significant growth.

Thanks to increased production and a cooperative expansion welcoming some 300 additional farmers, all part of the Palestine Fair Trade Association, Abufarha says Canaan's supply has grown by 88 percent over last year's harvest.

Not only is quantity up, but so is the quality of this year's olive oil. "The frost we had last winter, while [bringing] the quantity of olives down in the mountains and hilltops, also cleaned up farms from [worms] and flies that damage the olives," Abufarha explains. As a result, "we have a very healthy crop producing a high-quality olive oil this harvest."
As for addressing the challenges of conflict, Abufarha says Canaan's business model is an important support. "The main support we give our farmers is a steady market at high value that helps offset some of the losses suffered by these hardships in land access, loss of trees, or denials of water rights," he says.

The numbers prove that efficacy: "While Canaan farmers are about 2 percent of olive farmers in Palestine, they are producing about 7 percent share of Palestine's crop," Abufarha notes.

To continue its support of Palestinean farming communities, Canaan is planning a selection of new products for 2014 and 2015.


Among the new offerings is Palestine Raw Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Certified Fair for Life and USDA organic, this cold-pressed raw olive oil is unfiltered and unprocessed, giving it a sweet, fruity aroma thanks to light olive pulp in each bottle.

Coming next is the Crush Fusions line of infused olive oils, in zaatar, fresh basil, fresh lemon, garlic, and chile. And for the 2015 harvest, Abufarha shares, Canaan will be installing a shelling and packing line in Jenin to grow its almond production.

While conflict remains, Canaan ensures steady product availability to its U.S. customers. "We are expecting a superb harvest. We anticipate absolutely no shortage," says Meryl Marsh, U.S. sales coordinator for Canaan, adding that buyers should see no impact on supply. Entering its tenth year in business on a positive note, Marsh notes Canaan will see 2015 as among its most successful.

"Canaan was born out of a challenging environment," Marsh says. "And as always, we will insist on lifeā€”as is our motto."