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Research and growth key for Israeli pomegranates
Pomegranates like Christmas balls in the tree
For an Israeli exporter, there is lots of competition. With pomegranates, Yoav explained that Israeli fruit has traditionally had an advantage over competing Egyptian and Turkish fruit because of a superior flavor profile. But because competing growers and exporters have made strides in the appearance of fruit, continuing research is necessary.
Yoav Nakash from Galilee Export
“When you look for new varieties you look for good yields, good shelf life, good taste and good color,” said Yoav. “People buy with their eyes first, then then they taste the fruit. But you also need yields, because if the grower can't earn money on the fruit, then the whole thing stops.” The market for pomegranates has been steady the last few years, but returns for Israeli growers have suffered because of a changing exchange rate that brings fewer shekels home. That's why it's important to find new varieties, like the Shani, that can bring better sales with fewer costs.
Left: Fruit form the field to packing house in bins; Right: pomegranates are washed
“We're always looking for new markets,” added Yoav. “We have to contend with the weather, the currency, oil and the political situation. The growing of fruit is only about 30 percent of the equation; the combination of all the other things is what poses the biggest challenge.”
Pomegrantes are dried and sorted
Current market situation
In the short term, prices are probably at the lowest they will be for the season. Lots of product available has depressed the market, but prices should pick up in January when Spanish and Turkish fruit thins out. February and March are the prime months for Israeli exporters, and that's when prices will be most favorable. In the future, should Galilee establish year-long supplies, June through August could offer the highest returns of the season because that's when the market is mostly empty. Packaging and cold chain management will play a big role in making that possible.
Pomegranates are packed in Stepac plastic
“We use Stepac packaging that uses both plastic and wax to enhance shelf life,” said Yoav. “It has a double impact, and it's good enough that it can preserve our pomegranates through the entire six-week trip that it takes to send the fruit to Vladivostok, which is the farthest destination to which we ship.” That long shelf life also offers marketing benefits.
“We want to sell pomegranates, and we need to sell them,” said Yoav, “but we don't need to push them like bell peppers, for example, where you have to pick them and then sell them within one month. We want to sell the fruit, but we won't sell it at any price.”
"Galilee export enjoys a growth of 30% in volumes due to new plantations and many new growers that joined us during the year. Galilee Export achieved €100 millions of turnover and the volumes shall increase in the same proportions of 20% again next season."
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