Dates: A natural, artisanal and rational affair
The fruit of a 100% natural process free of chemical additives, dates harvested in the Tunisian oases possess exceptional nutritional values. In addition to being quite rich in minerals and iron, they also contain fibre and sugars that are easy for the body to assimilate.
This artisanal and traditional agriculture is also rational: “We do not dispose of anything from the dates. We keep and use everything. Even the wood of date palms is used to make furniture,” explains Walid Cherifi, manager of EAGLES INTERNATIONAL TRADE (EIT), a company he formed with his sister in 2014, specializing in exporting Tunisian dates and date-based products.
Tunisia: 1st exporter of dates
[Photo vignette: Lamps made of wood from date palms]
Tunisia is the leading exporter of dates with 24% of world exports. In September 2017, the country even registered an exportincrease of 21% over the previous year. In a context where international production and consumption of dates are constantly growing, Walid’s main challenge is as much to satisfy the tastes and demands of various international consumers as to differentiate his company and products.
Canada: A sustained passion
[Photo vignette: EIT at SIAL in Toronto with Canada’s Ambassador in Tunisia]
Fortunately, Walid discovered TFO Canada’s support services in 2015 during an Export to Canada Seminar in Tunisia, as part of a partnership agreement with the Chambre de Commerce et d’Industrie Sfax TUNISIE (CCI Sfax). He participated at his first SIAL in Montreal in 2016, in the Tunisian Pavilion. That is when he fell in love with Canada.
“Canada is a magnificent country, with business acumen, and more organized than other countries. When we send an email, we receive a response right away.” He adds that the good image he has of our country also comes from the remarkable work of the Canadian ambassador to Tunisia, Carol McQueen (pictured here). “She’s a true friend of Tunisia. Everyone in Tunisia likes her. She has a splendid personality!”
Driven by the guidance of TFO Canada, Walid meets experienced experts, visits large supermarkets, and discovers the fundamentals of his trade as an exporter – he learns what it takes to export to the Canadian market. He directs his production towards six fresh, quality and innovative processed products, playing with flavours and aromas: date sugar, honey, juice, vinegar, coffee and a date spread.
His participation in Toronto’s SIAL in 2017 (photo on the right) – in a kiosk set up with Tunisian handicrafts – affords him visibility on local television. This visibility further builds his company’s reputation, as more and more retailers are interested in EIT’s brand and products.
“I loved Toronto – it’s so well organized that I learned everything in 24 hours!” says Walid, visibly delighted with his experience in the Ontario metropolis.
Growing slowly but surely
Thanks to his association with TFO Canada, Walid Cherifi has also been able to devise a solid business plan for EAGLE INTERNATIONAL TRADE and sales are growing steadily. As his business and business opportunities grow, Walid remains cautious. He does not want to skip steps and wishes to understand the import/export process from A to Z to optimize his company’s organization and ensure a proper settlement in the market.
Mr Cherifi’s perseverance and method are valuable assets that will surely find their audience in Canada. EIT is happy to rely yet again on TFO Canada’s support as the company attends SIAL 2018 in Montreal. Business to be continued…