“Zatoun is Palestine in a bottle”

Fair Trade Extra Virgin Olive Oil & Soap

Frequently Asked Questions


About Zatoun

  1. What is the big idea behind Zatoun?
  2. Is Zatoun olive oil "fair trade"?
  3. Is Zatoun olive oil organic?
  4. How do the farmers of Palestine benefit from the sale?
  5. What is the breakdown of costs of a bottle?
  6. Does Zatoun ship into the United States?

About Olive Oil

  1. How do I care for Zatoun Extra Virgin Olive Oil?
  2. How does cold and freezing affect Olive Oil?


About Zatoun

What is the big idea behind Zatoun?

Simple, help farmers!  AND also to share with North Americans something central to understanding Palestine and Palestinians. The olive oil and olive trees represent their ties to the land and to the struggle. It is important that North Americans get a glimpse of everyday life in Occupied Palestine and the often impossible and oppressive conditions under which ordinary and innocent families must live.

Is Zatoun olive oil "fair trade"?

Yes, Zatoun extra virgin olive oil is certified fair trade under Swiss-based Institute for MarketEcology (IMO) which maintains a worldwide staff to develop, certify and maintain standards for social accountability and fair trade. IMO developed fair trade standards with alestine Fair Trade Association (PFTA) for olive oil where none existed previously.  For more information, visit www.imo.ch.

Is Zatoun olive oil organic?

Zatoun now offers two categories of extra virign oil.  Only in the last couple of years, certification for organic production has been achieved by some of the PFTA growers.  The remainder is not certified organic as such but is grown according to traditional methods. Please refer to the PFTA guidelines for cultivating olive and general farming practices. Additionally, there is no "agribusiness" in Palestine and therefore no systemic use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. This oil comes from trees which are tended and cultivated according to traditional methods and are pressed without chemicals or heat.

How do the farmers of Palestine benefit from the sale?

Zatoun has been founded with the principle of helping local Palestinians to the maximum extent possible. It is operated as a not for profit. All labour is volunteer and unpaid or subsidized by supporters. The entire cost of the purchase price is to cover payment to farmers, customs, transport and warehousing. Other costs include bottling and associated costs as well as promotion and administration costs.

What is the breakdown of costs of a Zatoun bottle (using 2007 as an example)?

Over the years, individuals have asked how the cost of each bottle is distributed. It sounds like a simple enough question but the answer is not.

Each season's costs and distribution are dramatically different due to the size of the order. The quantity of bottles drive the economies and costs of bottling, labels, overseas shipping, brokerage, inspection costs, transportation inside North America, printing, storage, etc., which represent 50% of the total cost.

Also, foreign exchange rates impact costs dramatically. When Zatoun started the Canadian dollar was worth $0.70 USD and now it hovers at parity. Increasingly, as Zatoun is being discovered by alternative retailers and partnering with organizations, retail and bulk prices are cutting into the revenue.  Zatoun is a registered not-for-profit.

NEW Detailed cost breakdown on a $15 bottle (2007)

Does Zatoun ship into the United States?

Yes, absolutely.  Zatoun's mandate is to make Zatoun available to the grassroots in both Canada and the US. It is wonderful to receive orders from supporters in either country. We ship minimum orders of 1 case (12 bottles) via UPS ground. 


About Olive Oil

How do I care for Zatoun Extra Virgin Olive Oil?

Olive oil is a very hardy food and has a "best before" life of 2 years (it can last longer with no serious deterioration in quality). Zatoun is very easy to care for. Simply keep in dark, cool place. Olive oil does not need to be refrigerated after opening; although it does it no harm either.

Excessive light and heat are two great threats to olive oil. Zatoun comes bottled in dark green glass which helps to protect it from light.

The freezing point of olive oil is 4° C or 39° F and it begins to congeal below 13° C or 55° F. Freezing or congealing does not harm the oil in any way. It returns to normal appearance and viscosity after after 8 or so hours at room temperature.


  • Keep in a dark and cool place.
  • To store olive oil over long periods; keep around 16° C or low 60° F.
  • Storage in basement is fine but keep off the bare ground.


  • CAUTION: Bottles may shatter due to expansion of oil from excessive heat.
  • Do NOT keep bottles in intense direct sunlight.
  • Do NOT store or forget bottles in the car during hot summer days.

How does cold and freezing affect Olive Oil?

During the cold months of winter, you may receive Zatoun olive oil which was shipped or stored in cold temperatures. It does not look anything like the flowing, peaceful nature of the Zatoun olive oil you expect. In fact, you may be a little concerned at its appearance. Not to worry – the cold causes the oil to congeal, turn cloudy and finally freeze. In the freezing and thawing process the various oils form into quite amazing particles which may look unappetizing. Please rest assured that this process does the oil NO HARM at all. It will return to its original state at room temperature after a few days and the flavour will not be affected.

Even if you are at war with a city...you must not destroy its trees for the tree of the fields is man's life.

Deut. 20: 19-20