Posted by: Agence Tunis Afrique Presse
In less than a year, Karim Fitouri, 45, the head of a young and totally exporting company “Olivko”, won the top positions in all international olive oil competitions and bagged 15 medals including three very outstanding in Los Angeles, London and the last one in Italy.
He is the first Tunisian to achieve these results, making Tunisian olive oil one of the best “Yellow Gold” in the world.
Karim, who has become an international olive oil consultant and is highly sought after by professionals in the sector from all over the world, has been able to surpass the largest olive oil producers in the world, especially in Italy, Spain and Portugal,
thanks to the quality of all the varieties of his oil.
He has won the highest international awards in France (one medal), Japan (2), London (2), New York (2), Los Angeles (7) and Italy (1).
Thanks to its exceptional quality that has earned it the label “olive oil beneficial to health”, this variety “Olivko”, is sold in London, France, the United States, Australia and Japan, thus hoisting the image of Tunisia in these countries especially in terms of product quality.
With a smile that does not leave his face, Karim recalls the beginning of his success story.
“Until the Revolution of January 14, 2011, I was working in areas that had nothing to do with the agriculture sector and the manufacture of oils,” said Karim, recalling that he is a graduate in electronic engineering.
During this period, I noticed the importance of the phenomenon of construction in Tunisia, so I thought about buying furniture from China to sell them in Tunisia, he said, adding in his tone full of optimism and enthusiasm that his stay in China which has not exceeded a month and allowed him to meet the Chinese and know their needs pushed him to think about reversing the idea by selling the Tunisian product rather than the Chinese product.
“The first idea that came to my mind is to work on the olive oil niche, especially since Tunisia has the best varieties of olives in the world,” said Fitouri.
He added that the exploitation of Tunisian olive oil by the largest olive producers such as Italy, which sells it under Italian labels, only bolstered his enthusiasm for the idea to work on this Tunisian product.
The first steps of the experience of Karim Fitouri, who is native of the island of Djerba, began with the acquisition of a small amount of olive oil for sale in China, which did not express a real desire to buy this product again.
“To explain their position, the Chinese have stressed that the Tunisians sell them the first time a quality product but cheat thereafter,” said Fitouri, pointing out that this position has prompted him to carry out the necessary studies and to come to the conclusion that Tunisia merely sells oil in bulk and besides there is no specialty focusing on quality .
Karim Fitouri, who pursued sommelier training at a specialised school in New York led by the head of the “Olive Oil Times” magazine, then in Britain, a country in which he lives for 25 years, returned to Tunisia to start production in co-operation with a friend in Zaghouan who put at his disposal his oil mill.
“I started squeezing the olives (only 5 tonnes) bought in Teboursek (Béjà) and collected in my own way to then participate in the first contest in Tunisia winning a gold medal ahead of about 700 international candidates”.
Fitouri uses sound methods and techniques for the production of oil, from collecting olives, transporting them and storing them to the conditions of their extraction, relying on his own resources and his experience after 25 years of work overseas.
Subsequently, he worked in partnership with the “Mabrouka estate” in Utique (Bizerte governorate) on an area of 19 hectares and in an oil mill to continue to produce high quality oil in his own way, which is based essentially on hygiene without thinking about the quantities that he will obtain nor with the profit he will make.
Indeed, Fitouri works primarily for quality in order to capture markets, then come the revenue.
Fitouri’s love for his country, which is full of abandoned and untapped natural wealth, has pushed him to live below the standard of living that he and his family were used to in Britain, insisting to stay in Tunisia serving his country by supporting the Tunisian product and promoting the destination Tunisia.
Indeed, he considers that the success of the flow of oil will help to open wide prospects for the rest of the local products as well as tourism.
Thanks to the training he has acquired and his studies in the field of olive oil, Karim Fitouri, who has developed a strategy spanning 15 years and able to position Tunisia at the same level as Italy, aims to market “olivko” in Tunisia provided that there are distribution companies that meet the conditions of distribution of his production.
Fitouri urged the state to intensify training in this sector, to develop a coherent strategy for olive oil and not just picking and traditional pressure.