Local food processor expands reach to rural farmers and increases
the marketing and quality of organic food products.
For several years, Fady Daw has studied how foreign products beat out local products on Lebanon’s high-end, organic foods market. He suspected that much of it had to do with packaging. So he adopted a new strategy and ordered some bottles from Italy.
“The Lebanese are tired of tomato puree in a jar. They prefer it in a bottle with a wide opening. The round jars are everywhere and have no effect on the consumer,” explains Daw.
In the first four months, his company, Adonis Valley, saw sales of bottled organic tomato puree increase 40 percent. Daw also bottled Adonis Valley organic jams and black honey in hexagonal-shaped jars, and their sales increased by 30 percent in the same period.
Organic farming is not as widespread as Lebanese producers will have you believe, according to Daw. Over the last decade, he and an army of by-the-book growers lobbied the government to pass food regulations on packaging and marketing with the word ‘organic’, and Adonis Valley was the first company in Lebanon to gain the certification.
In 2010, organic food stores started popping up around Beirut giving Adonis Valley new market channels and a better chance to reach the health conscious shopper. Then in 2014, Adonis Valley partnered with the USAID-funded Lebanon Industry Value Chain Development Program to strengthen the company’s purchasing contracts with artisanal growers in rural areas while improving the variety and quality of the company’s products.
The program is part of President Obama’s Feed the Future initiative, a global network of development projects investing in local food systems, agriculture and nutrition.
In partnership with USAID, Adonis Valley acquired a modern vinegar machine, solar water heater, an industrial sieve, the new bottles and 200 free-range chickens. As part of its investment, Adonis Valley purchased fruit driers for the 12 women members of the Aarsal Cooperative, located in northwest Bekaa Valley.
The driers are larger and more durable, able to accommodate more tomatoes. Adonis Valley also purchased new pickling equipment for the 14 women of the Hermel Cooperative located in the northeast of Lebanon.
“Working with women cooperatives and rural growers is in line with our mission to maintain a healthy and equitable ecosystem for our food systems. These types of initiatives have always created goodwill for our brand. If the growers are more productive, their families will also prosper,” explains Daw.
Adonis Valley covered the costs of installation and training for the new equipment—including the solar kit and the vinegar machine—increased employment contracts for key staff, and built a modern, wooden coop for the chickens. In total, USAID invested $60,000 and Adonis Valley invested $65,000 during the year-long partnership.
An expanded Adonis Valley means more organic products on the local market and more purchasing from rural growers in 2017.