Israel: Gap in grapefruit market presents opportunity

With the start of grapefruit shipments from Florida and Turkey still a few weeks away, Israeli growers are beginning their shipments to European countries this week. Because there's not much South African product left this year, Israeli suppliers will enter a favorable market with their fruit.

While Israeli growers usually take advantage of the gap in production before the Florida and Turkey export seasons get going, this year will present an especially promising opportunity, said Oron Ziv of Mehadrin, Israel's largest exporters of citrus.

“Normally, our main competitors in grapefruit are Florida and Turkey,” he said. “Since they start a bit later, we have a gap in October.” But the difference this year is that there's less South African fruit left on the market, so demand will be high.

“Right now, the market is pretty much empty, so we're seeing pretty good potential and we're pushing hard on our harvesting,” he added. This year's grapefruit harvest started early, so that's given Mehadrin a jump on the season. Ziv noted that good volumes will probably arrive in European markets this week, with shipments going to major EU countries like Italy, France, Germany, Ukraine and Russia.

Summer weather higher than normal, but it was not extreme enough to affect fruit, said Ziv. Coloration and maturity were progressing normally, and volume is also expected to be similar to normal years with acreage remaining roughly the same. Early sizing will be on the large size as growers have the ability to only pick larger fruit while waiting for smaller fruit to size. With no major complications this season, Ziv said they're just trying to get as much fruit as they can onto the market to take advantage of what he believes will be a great year.

“Consumers consider Florida grapefruit to be premium, and fruit from Turkey competes on price, so Israel is in between. So if you take the combination of appearance, taste and price, we think we have the best solution,” he said. And with good demand from a market with low supplies, they think that solution will be attractive to consumers.

“All of our packing houses are in full swing,” he said. “Because we're expecting a good market situation, we're really trying to push out as much fruit as possible.”

For more information:
Oron Ziv
Tel: +31 180 642 570
Fax: +31 180 642 571

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