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By Ari Goren
14% increase in Israeli citrus Export 2011-1012In 2011, 600,000 tons of citrus fruit were produced in Israel from 18,200 hectares of orchards. In 2012, 1500 hectares were newly planted with citrus. In recent years, the citrus sector in Israel has been undergoing changes as it introduced new agrothechnologies to facilitate improved operations, including the planting of new varieties.
The traditional Shamouti orange lost quantities over the years but is still one of Israel's important citrus products, with an increase of 23% this year.
In the past, the white grapefruit, originally cultivated in inland valleys, was one of the main varieties grown and exported from Israel, but has decreased by 32% this season. This variety has been replaced some years ago by the star ruby –Sunrise- variety. The Sunrise is now the main product in Israeli citrus export, though its export quantity was down 10% this year.
New easy peelers such as Or, experienced an increase of 50% this season. Murcot had an increase of 200%, whilst others were developed for export and for the local market and have been planted on a very large scale in recent years.
Already, towards the end of the season, it can be said with certainty that this year was abundant. However, due to the large crop fruits were small sized.
The many rainy days caused picking difficulties and a high percentage of rejected fruit, as well as low income for growers. Total production for the 2011/2012 season was 536000 ton, from which 176000 tons went for export, 160000 tons for the domestic market and 200000 tons for industry.
Although this is a significant increase in quantities there was a decrease in profitability.
The Grapefruit season stated very badly with high market stocks from the Southern Hemisphere accompanied by rock bottom prices. Although In February there was a price increase all over Europe it could not contribute sufficiently to make the end of the season a profitable one.
On the contrary the OR season began in a positive way in early January, when the main problem was the small sizes 3 and 4. Overall revenue declined this year drastically compared with 2010/11 although the variety OR is considered, in general, as a very profitable one.
Western Europe was the main destination for Israeli citrus accountable for 70% of exports. whereas Russia absorbed another 20%, meaning that 90% of the total Israeli citrus was marketed on the European continent, at a time when it is suffering from a financial crisis.
Israel is, as usual, also producing exotic citrus varieties like lime, kumquat, limquat and both red and white pomelo. The red pomelo lost 17% in comparison to last season, and the white pomelo export increased by 19%. Citrus from Israel travels to 45 different countries all over the globe, from Argentina and the USA in the west to China, Australia, Japan and Korea in the east.
There is growing awareness of the importance of ecologically-oriented agriculture. This has led to the development of "green" fruit, which is grown with minimal use of chemicals, to reduce environmental impact. Production is carried out according to the quality management requirements of the European market, in compliance with EurepGAP 2000 principles, ISO standards and crop management protocols.
As a part of the policy to reduce the use of chemicals, 65% of Israel's citrus groves have instituted Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs, which use natural control agents such as parasitic wasps and predatory insects, thus minimizing the need for chemicals.
Development of new citrus is presently being geared to attain lower seed content, longer shelf life, attractive appearance and a longer marketing season. The intention has been to extend the area size of citrus easy peelers which is preferred by consumers to traditional oranges varieties. Model groves of newly developed easy peelers, which have been planted in various areas across the country, have already shown promising commercial potential. One of the leading new varieties, OR, which was developed in Israel is already one of the most sought after fruits in Europe and generally provides good returns.
The citrus sector, which has fluctuated over the last few years, has concentrated on increasing the efficiency of its operations, introducing new methods and, in addition to new varieties developed, increasing efforts to meet changing market demands, while bringing citrus growers greater return. Nevertheless, citrus marketing has changed considerably in the last decade, from marketing by a monopoly-the CMBI -, which due to reorganization is now a minor part in the plants production board - to private marketing entities authorized to compete on the open markets. Currently, there are 50 authorized Israeli citrus exporters.
To see full figures for each variety click here.
Publication date: 6/4/2012
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