Made in Lebanon: Reasons to Support Local Production
Lebanon is currently facing one of its toughest times in recent history. The volatile economy and the on-going peaceful protests by its beautiful people demanding their rights has impacted day to day living. Soon imports will be restricted and this in turn will lead to shortages of things we previously bought and took for granted in Lebanon. As a silver lining (yes, there is a positive side!), this crisis has brought to our attention how many essential things are actually made in Lebanon and how resourceful we can be with what is available locally. Ranging from food, hygiene, cleaning, toiletries to luxury items (and everything in between), most of what we actually purchase is widely available from Lebanese producers and manufacturers! There are a number of sites now dedicated to all things made in Lebanon and we’ll remind you of them later. Now let’s explore why supporting local is a win/win situation for all of us…
Gift pack featuring a range of made in Lebanon products (Picture: https://www.koullounabox.com/products/the-sobhiyeh-box?variant=15154251890788)
Lebanon Produces More Than You May Realize
As the country always relied heavily on imports, many of us didn’t always appreciate local production or even realize that some of the items we were already consuming are made locally. According to the Investment Development Authority of Lebanon (IDAL), Lebanon has over 6,400 industrial firms, with a big chunk of the total share (22%) in the agricultural food sector (just think of all the tasty olive oil, lovely cheese, wine, roasted nuts, zaatar, sweets and many more delicacies that we cherish from Lebanon). Many packaged food items will have clear labels that say ‘Made in Lebanon’ or else look for the fine print which may state this. Otherwise, ask the retailer and find out. It’s your right to know. Shopping local invariably has a trickle effect that benefits the country and its people profoundly. Let’s look at five of the reasons that make supporting ‘Made in Lebanon’ desirable.
Five Reasons to Shop Locally:
1- Helping the Local Economy:
Buying local is one of the best things we can do to support the economy in these difficult times. We need to show our support by spending our liras on everything made here. When you buy local, you are benefitting a chain of people who work for the brand. You are paying towards their salaries and in turn they are using their money in Lebanon for services and goods – and this chain goes on. However, if you buy an imported item, the Lebanese importer makes some profit but the rest of the beneficiaries are based abroad. In fact, it is always a good time to buy local and the current revolution has further brought this to our attention!
N.B.: Some locally produced products still need to use raw materials that are sourced from abroad, which in turn may mean their retail prices are being slightly increased in order to compensate the USD to Lebanese Lira conversions (for imports) during this transitional period.
Pottery made in Lebanon
2- Reviving Artisanal Goods:
In Lebanon there are so many amazing quality goods that are made by hand or by traditional methods, such as tiles, sculpted woodworks, pottery, crockery, jewelry, silverware (metal works), clothing, embroidered tablecloths, accessories and fragrant organic soaps (saboun balady). Some handcraft brands work predominantly with marginalized women and refugees, so your purchase helps their livelihood, too. Furthermore, your purchase helps towards reviving the crafts industry and allowing it to pass hands to the next generations. Many crafts, such as glass blowing, are nearly extinct in Lebanon. However, if the demand of these goods is healthy, then the supply will only increase and these crafts will have a better chance to live on. Let’s demand more, it’s quite simple.
Picture of soap maker in Tripoli: https://lebanonuntravelled.com/tripolis-soap-making-tradition/
3- After Sales Service:
When you buy local you are more likely to get good customer service because you are closer to the source. This means if you have a problem with the service or merchandise, you can get it fixed or have the problem dealt with relatively quickly within Lebanon. In other words, your purchase will not need to be sent overseas to the country of origin, or where it is being managed from, such as going through the regional agent, to be repaired.
4- Innovation and Encouraging Exports:
Business trends show that independent businesses are where innovation usually takes place. Without the creativity and nature of local businesses industries won’t advance. By nurturing a brand or service, people get to experiment, do research and development (R&D) initiatives, so they can create something new and not previously available in the market. Many Lebanese brands are coveted overseas for their unique added value. Let’s see more of them succeed locally, which in turn encourages them to export too, generating more sales and even encouraging them to develop franchises abroad. Lebanese brands abroad are like our ‘ambassadors’, let’s show everyone the best that comes out of this small, yet very resourceful country!
5- Help to Create a Lebanese Identity:
Having more Lebanese brands and services gives the country a stronger identity and a sense of pride. This will also attract more tourism and make our communities more popular, creating a financially healthier area in which to live and work. Furthermore, if we allow the imported (and largely unethical) ‘fast fashion’ popular chain stores to completely take over our high streets and malls, then shopping in Lebanon is no longer a unique experience. Seeing local brands that reflect the nuances of our rich heritage, culture and lovely people is always a breath of fresh air. Don’t you agree? And with the holidays approaching, if you are planning to exchange small gifts (such as participating in secret Santa) go for something Lebanese, and you’ll be surprised to find that a wide range of options is available.
On a final note, we can say supporting ‘Made in Lebanon’ has gained lots of momentum since the peaceful protests began, especially on social media. If you want to know more about the products or sites promoting them, check these two active Facebook pages: Made in Lebanon! The Lebanese products Group! and Made in Lebanon.On Instagram you can browse and follow: sina3atlb, buy_local_lebanese, localebaneseproducts and lebanesedesigners. If you know of other good sites to buy Lebanese that we did not mention, please let us know and we will be happy to share it here at The Wellness Project! Of course, you can also go to all brick and mortar shops, as well as farmers’ markets, such as the Souk El Tayeb, Badaro Farmer’s Market, and Souk El Akel throughout Lebanon and find a range of local brands and fresh seasonal produce. There are various Christmas markets happening too, that sell plenty of Lebanese handicrafts. Here is a listing of those pop-up markets https://www.lebtivity.com/e/exhibitions-fairs happening during this month.
So, let’s make a conscious choice to buy local. Our choices can contribute towards a better Lebanon, which is our ultimate goal.