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Israel: Mor International covers gaps in persimmon season
Yair Kaplan, owner of Mor International
Since MOR opened a packing house in South Africa in 2005, Mor International now has had year-round availability of persimmons. Complementing their existing production of sharon fruit in Israel, South African supplies help Mor feed the growing consumption of persimmons in Israel, Europe and the rest of the world.
Eran Nadler, Vice President of More International
Sharon fruit, which gets its name from the region in which it's grown in Israel, is a type of persimmon which is available in Israel from October through March. With robust demand for the fruit in Israel and contracts with many supermarkets throughout Europe, Mor International invested in a pack house in South Africa. South Africa's season runs from April through June, so the extra supplies of persimmon shore up Mor's fruit quantities. Mor's Eran Nadler explained that the high tech South African facility was needed because of the growth Mor has been experiencing.
The packing house of Mor International in the Sharon area
“Our company is growing every year,” said Nadler. “So we need the infrastructure to feed that growth.” Mor is now the largest grower, packer and exporter of sharon fruit in Israel and South Africa. Nearly 35% of their Israeli production, which hovers around 13,000 tons per year, comes from their own orchards and the rest is secured from growers for whom they market fruit outside of the country. The South African operation produces about 7,000 tons annually, of which the majority is grown by MOR. The high amount of sugar, about 22 brix content means it can be cooled at very low temperatures, up to minus 1, without freezing, which leads to a longer shelf life. While that long shelf life means it can be shipped farther, Nadler remarked that while they find emerging markets beyond Israel and Europe interesting, they don't want to get carried away with focusing on new markets.
This small packaging is especially for the Singapore market
“The farther you go, the more risky it is,” explained Nadler. “We know the fruit is good, but things can happen while the fruit is in transit.” For that reason, Nadler said he's comfortable with half of Mor's persimmon production staying in the local market. While prices are less lucrative at home, it's much easier to ensure that things go right when selling domestically. But with increasing competition from Spanish growers, he also noted that Mor is continually looking for ways to improve.
The Sharon fruit at the tree in the Sharon area
“It's very important to stay two steps ahead in everything,” said Nadler. He explained how, for example, they have to accommodate the demands of customers in the U.S., who aren't too keen on insects for pest management, with the preferences of European consumers who don't like the use of pesticides on their produce.
“We're ahead of the competition right now,” said Nadler, “but we must continue to get better because everyone continues to grow.”
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