Israel is well known around the world for its good quality fruit and vegetable exports such as citrus, avocados, mangoes, dates, cherry tomatoes, peppers and also potatoes as well as sweet potatoes, but this year will a bit different. The Israeli New Year started on 7th of September and this year is Shmita, a sabbatical year where the Torah calls for the land to lie fallow for the year. This happens every seven years.
“This does not mean that every grower in the country will not work the land, there are people with different beliefs or less strict beliefs who will plant and harvest crops during the seventh year, it also only applied to the biblical land boundaries within the country,” explains Ziv Dotan UK Branch Manager at MIKSHAR an Israeli import/export agency specialising in fruit and vegetables.
“During Shmita many growers will let their land lie fallow, while others ‘symbolically sell’ their land to others and buy it back after one year. Some consumers are very strict about what produce they eat and will only eat produce which comes with a certification that it has not been grown on this land, these consumers are prepared to pay more for imported produce. Also, during Shmita import duties are relaxed for the licensed Shmita importers to keep the prices down..”
Fruit and vegetables being grown by people who do not follow Shmita can still be exported and sold domestically.
The Shimta year has just started and at the moment there are good stocks of some products, for example potatoes, apples and pears. Anything harvested before 6th of September can be consumed.
“Around December there will a requirement to increase imports of vegetables such as tomatoes, potatoes, beetroot, courgettes, onions, carrot etc, and later we will require apples, pears, grapes and other fruit.”
MIKSHAR sources and supplies fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables to various destinations around the world. “In the coming months we will be particularly interested in sourcing fresh produce from the UK and Europe to supply the Israeli domestic market,” concludes Ziv.