As one of the only Israeli export companies that has a stock of herbs in the Netherlands, Arava Export Growers can fulfil their customers' demands quickly.
“Our flexibility and quick reaction times are our biggest advantages”, says Eldad Engelberg from Arava. Arava Export Growers is one of the largest Israeli export companies of fresh herbs, with more than 20 years of experience.
“We have growers that mainly supply to our company as well as a warehouse in the Netherlands. We supply to the whole of Europe via this warehouse in the Netherlands. We also use direct flights from Israel to supply some of our customers.”
Three main products
Arava Export Growers’ the main three products are basil, chives, and salicornia. “We also supply more than 20 other varieties of fresh herbs”, adds Eldad. Salicornia’s is one of the items which popularity is growing. In some European countries salicornia is now being more commonly used in restaurants and supermarkets.
“In countries such as the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands, and France, the demand for this product is growing. They are familiar with the product there. In countries where it is not well-known, there is a small increase in demand”, explains Eldad.
Eldad says there is some competition on the European market from other Israeli companies. “The main competition for Israeli products is primarily coming from places like Africa, Morocco and, of course, Spain and Italy”, he continues.
Europe still their main market
Despite this, Eldad says there is still a market for Israeli herbs on the European market. “The main reason is the high quality we are able to deliver in all the herbs, but mainly in Basil. We can also supply this product all year round.”
“In the summer we reduce the production because we are selling less. In the winter, we increase the production. However, we always use the same growers. We need to give them work all year round”, he says.
“Our company has two main advantages. Firstly, we have our own growers. In this way we can control not only the quality but also can ensure that we have a stable supply”, says Eldad.
Good logistics chain
“The second advantage is logistics”, he adds. “Over the years we have built up a very good logistics network. In this way, we can deliver to Europe on a daily basis. This makes us flexible, and gives us the opportunity to react very quickly to our customers’ demands.”
“The entire logistics chain, from the growers all the way through to our warehouse in the Netherlands, works very well. This is because it moves large volumes every day. Since we control the whole chain, the Cool chain is better and the herbs don't suffer from changes in temperature, something that affects their shelf life. We can also give our customers more competitive prices.
Since the herbs are kept at the correct temperature throughout, we can also give them good quality products. And, of course, fresh herbs that are not stored for long periods.”
Arava also has branches in Russia and the USA. Europe, however, remains their primary market. “Russia has the potential to become a huge market. The main problem there is insurance. Most companies in Russia have no insurance”, says Eldad.
“In Russia, we have competitors from Israel, of course. We also now have competition from countries close to Russia, such as Uzbekistan. These countries have started to grow their own herbs and have learned how to extend their season by, for example, growing in greenhouses.”
Focus on greenhouse herbs
Eldad explains that in Israel, Arava Export Growers focuses on greenhouse-grown herbs “The state-of-the-art technology enables optimal growth conditions for the herbs. We do not have to spray with pesticides as often and, when we do it, It’s more effective.”
“In general, we managed to maintain prices at lower levels. However, now prices are increasing. This increased price is due to the airfreight companies increasing their prices. Also, it is more difficult to grow herbs in the winter, when temperatures start to drop. The herbs grow slower, so production slows down”, he says.
“The biggest challenge for us is competition from Africa. The labor costs are much lower there. This puts pressure on the products’ prices. We still need to compete on the European market when it comes to prices.”
“On the other hand, we still need to give our growers a good price. They have many production costs, from water to labor. This is, of course, pushing us to become more precise and more automated”, Eldad concludes.