(MENAFN- Digital solutions)
says he loves spending time immersed in nature and walking through his grove of olive trees in the mountains of Lebanon. It’s something he’s done since he was a young boy and now continues to do. The business leader says he appreciates Lebanon’s olive oil so much he feels it could potentially become a significant export for the region.
“I have olive groves, trees that are more than a thousand years old that I maintain every year. We get the oil from them,” he says of walking through Lebanon’s fertile land and enjoying its gentle climate. “I walk, I look at the trees. I see if the fruits are going to be good this year or not going to be good.”
It’s a process he admits he finds very rewarding. Proudly maintaining his olive trees, Marwan Kheireddine says the oil is always top-notch.
“Lebanon produces one of the best quality olive oils in the world.” Marwan Kheireddine says. “I have not yet seen any serious olive oil producing company selling Lebanese olive oil on international markets, mostly because of the structure of ownership, land ownership in Lebanon.”
Marwan Kheireddine says land is owned by individuals in Lebanon. “Most individuals own small plots of land that are scattered in different regions in Lebanon,” Marwan Kheireddine says. “The oil that is produced is mostly produced in small olive oil factories, so there aren't economies of scale. So they end up being produced in small quantities that are quite expensive, and they sell them locally because exporting them simply cannot compete with oil being produced in Italy or Spain. Essentially, these are the competitors for Lebanon.”
Marwan Kheireddine Is Impressed With Lebanon’s Olive Oil Potential
Marwan Kheireddine says he sees olive oil as an excellent business investment if a few factors align. After all, Lebanon is historically where olive trees originated, according to Marwan Kheireddine.
“If they can gather up and create a high-end luxury brand, the quality of oil produced in Lebanon is by far superior to the best quality produced in Italy or in Spain, but they need to market that,” he says.
For that to happen, Marwan Kheireddine explains economies of scale are necessary.
“So if there was a way for someone to come in and say, ‘You know what, guys, let's all gather up under one or maybe two companies and all gather our efforts and produce the Louis Vuitton of olive oil in the world, or the Chanel of olive oil in the world,” Marwan Kheireddine says. “Let's create a brand, and remember we are the land of Jesus Christ. We have olive trees in Lebanon that are more than 2,000 years old.”
The entrepreneurial businessman who brought Virgin Megastores to Lebanon says when it comes to olive oil, Lebanon definitely has a story to tell.
Marwan Kheireddine: The Process Is Very Sensitive
“But it requires someone with some capital and some innovation and obviously some understanding of agriculture that is willing to come and say, ‘You know what, I'm going to buy all of your produce. This is what I need from you. This is how I'm going to process it because it's very sensitive.’” he explains. “You need to get the olives and turn them to olive oil within four hours of picking them from the tree so that you get extra-virgin olive oil. That's how I'm going to label them, that's how I'm going to add flavors to them and package and sell them in Europe or in the United States.”
Marwan Kheireddine says he’d be willing to invest in it if he teamed up with the right partners.
“You could produce olive oil that is by far higher in quality, in standards, than anything you can buy anywhere in the world,” he says. “So that's an idea that I'd be willing to give to my competitors.”
An idea to pore over, indeed.
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