Fathi Baldi, 45, is the founder of SMSA Ardhelkhir, an agricultural cooperative in Kairouan that produces extra virgin olive oil, sun-dried tomatoes, and other fruit and vegetable products.
Mr. Baldi established the cooperative in 2018 to build on his family’s agribusiness company and connect with local farmers. The company sources its olives, its main product, from Mr. Baldi’s family estate and other neighboring olive farmers. The SMSA then processes the olives at its oil mill and markets them under two main brands – Domaine Baldi and Kairouan Oil. Each brand offers a range of unique olive oil varieties, including garlic, lemon, and pepper-infused oil. These products are sold internationally and have received awards in the UK and Canada for their premium quality.
On top of its olive oil, the SMSA also sells fruit and vegetable products, such as sun-dried tomatoes and peppers. It has a small laboratory to test the quality of these products as well as new high-value derivatives it aims to develop and market, such as with apricot and quince.
SMSA Ardhelkhir’s commitment to quality has paid major sales dividends and been a big boost to Kairouan’s agribusiness economy. So far, SMSA Ardhelkhir’s business has created 15 full-time jobs, 150 seasonal jobs, and 500 partnerships with individual farmers in the region.
To win over even more buyers in US and European markets, however, SMSA Ardhelkhir needs to certify its products’ compliance with international quality and safety standards. In 2021, JOBS partnered with the SMSA to address this challenge, working with it to implement a British Retail Consortium (BRC) certification, one of the top international credentials for good food quality and safety standards.
Baldi, SMSA Ardhelkhir’s founder, has high hopes that the certification, which it expects to receive in early 2023, will fuel strong growth in the years ahead.
“Once we obtain the certificate, we expect to triple our orders and compete with Italian and Spanish products on the shelves of supermarkets around the world,” says Baldi.