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Gezer Shallit finds advantage in fresh carrots
Rony Baruch (Agricultural Production and Marketing) and Mahmud Yonis (Packing House Manager)
For Gezer Shallit, one of the largest exporters of carrots in Israel, the unique climate in Israel gives them an advantage over other suppliers. While markets in Russia and Europe suffer through cold weather that forces them to rely on carrots from storage, because of the moderate Israeli climate, they can grow, harvest and ship fresh carrots throughout Europe.
“We only export fresh carrots,” explained Rony Baruch. “While it's winter in Europe and the carrots there are not very good, we take advantage of the opportunity to ship fresh carrots there.” The superior quality of their carrots ensures Gezer Shallit's exports garner a favorable prices. That extra income helps make up for the disadvantages that Israeli growers usually face with respect to their competition throughout Europe.
The carrots are washed (left) and sorted (right)
“The carrot business requires very expensive equipment because everything we do is automated,” said Baruch. “We also pay our workers well, and we just invested in a new cold room.” But the payoff is that Gezer Shallit will be able to control the entire production process, from the contracted growing of the carrots on 400 hectares all the way through sorting, packaging and shipping.
After the carrots are sorted and washed, there is an extra check for the carrots
Harvesting begins in October and continues through July, but Baruch noted that their peak season really begins in March, when supplies of in Russia and throughout Europe are depleted and they can take advantage of markets who crave fresh carrots. In fact, the demand for their product is so great during that time that the entire company works seven days a week just to fulfill the orders received.
“It's very intensive work from March through July,” said Baruch. “But that's the time we pick and export the most because it's cold in Europe.” Through their run, they pick 35,000 tons of carrots, and 60 percent of that is exported, which is about on par with the rest of the country's carrot exporters, who export about half of the carrots grown on 3,000 hectares. Of the exported product, most of it finds its way to Russia, where consumers pay a higher price for larger sizes. But Baruch explained that they're making an effort to branch out beyond their main export destination, because too much reliance on one market is dangerous. For that reason, Gezer Shallit has been exploring markets in North America.
“We have to spread our exports around,” said Baruch. “We believe that if you want to get good prices in a market, you have to be present there for when the prices rise.” The challenge lies in finding trustworthy brokers in new markets, because Baruch said the way they do business is by establishing long-term connections with people who can guarantee fair prices and timely payment.
“Prices depend on the markets,” said Baruch. “So we'd prefer to find people with whom we can do business season after season rather than chasing price bubbles.”
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