Israeli Summer fig season under way

A month and a half into the Summer fig season in Israel and almost all Summer varieties are available for export. The season began in late-April and is expected to continue through August.

“We're excited about the season because people are interested and there's good demand,” said Avniv's CEO, Niva Ben Zion. “We have sufficient volume this year, so everything looks good.” Avniv is a large supplier of Israeli figs, and Niva noted that much of their exports are destined for supermarkets in the UK and Hong Kong. While they supply the packers, wholesalers and category managers who, in turn, supply the supermarkets, Avniv can also pack their figs in punnets containing up to six pieces of fruit or in boxes of up to three kilograms. They can also affix labels to the packaging so the figs are ready to hit the shelves upon arrival.

The Summer season started with Early Figaro figs during the latter part of April, and early Figaros were shortly followed by the Brazilian variety in May. While the Nazareth green variety is still a few weeks away from being available, both organic Brazilian and Brown Turkey figs came online this month. Niva said they're especially excited about the latter variety, as they've been employing new cultivation methods this year to achieve an enhanced flavor.

“The full name is the Pollinated Brown Turkey Super Sweet fig,” said Niva. While the variety itself isn't new, Niva explained that pollination imparts on the fig a longer shelf life as well as a sweeter taste, hence the Super Sweet moniker.

The Summer season will continue through August, at which time growers will take a break until the start of the Winter season, which runs from October through January. Niva noted that the timing of the season is beneficial to the nation's growers because it takes a break when the Turkish season starts and starts up again when Turkey finishes. That results in no overlap between Israeli and Turkish production. She did explain that Ramadan usually means less consumption from some consumers, as Muslims prefer dates over figs during that period, but it doesn't significantly affect the 350 tons of figs which Israel exports annually. In any case, any dip in consumption during Ramadan is being picked up by increased demand in Far East markets.

While figs from Brazil are available throughout the year, Niva doesn't think they're a threat to Israeli growers because Israeli figs are different from Brazilian figs in quality and characteristics. Figs from Israel are known for their taste, and it's that distinction which Niva thinks is key to the success of their fig program. She noted that there's been an economic crisis in Europe for the past few years, but because figs are considered a premium exotic item, they haven't suffered from customers switching to other products. The goal is to maintain good quality in order to retain customers.

“Most people find taste to be an important factor,” said Niva. “So we need to make the shelf life and taste even better in order to get that housewife, for example, to keep buying figs.”

For more information:
Niva Ben Zion
Tel: +972-2-9941047

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