The 2024 Orri mandarin export season from Israel is influenced by the general situation in the agricultural environment in Israel, regarding the war, mainly the lack of workers, logistics limitations and some inactive plantations. Betsalel Ohana, export manager for Planet Israel, states that overall production is slightly down because of these factors.
“Compared to 2023, Orri mandarin production in Israel is down slightly, by around 5-10%. This is primarily due to reduced fruit set during the flowering stage, likely influenced by a combination of factors as higher than average winter temperatures, fluctuating humidity levels and lack of workers. However, compared to the pre-pandemic average, between 2017 and 2019, production is still holding steady trend. As a result, the export season is starting these days with about 30 per cent less volume.”
Although the weather did have a small impact on the cultivation, there hasn’t been any extreme weather event to influence the season, Ohana explains: “The warmer-than-usual-winter did have some impact on production, potentially contributing to the reduced fruit set. However, the overall growing season has been relatively favorable, with adequate rainfall and sunshine. The lack of severe weather events like hail or frost until now, has helped minimize losses and maintain good fruit quality.”
Ohana is satisfied with the sizes of the Orri mandarins this season. “The fruit size this year is generally within the expected range, with no significant variations compared to previous seasons. Growers have implemented meticulous crop management practices to optimize fruit size and maintain the high standards that Orri mandarins are known for. Our main sizes these days are the medium sizes; 1xx, 1x, 1,2, which have good demand in West Europe. Canada and USA prefer more of the bigger sizes; 1xxx, 1xx and 1x.”
Demand for the Orri mandarins has been on a good level according to Ohana: “Our main markets in Europe are France, Italy, and the Netherlands. Some European markets, particularly in Scandinavia and the UK, are showing increased interest, likely due to growing consumer awareness and appreciation for the fruit's unique qualities. However, certain Asian markets, previously major importers, are experiencing slight declines due to logistical challenges and economic factors.”
As Planet Israel mostly focuses on markets in the West, the situation in the Red Sea doesn’t impact the Orri season for the exporter, Ohana explains. “Global logistical challenges, including container shortages and rising shipping costs, continue to impact the export season. Despite these challenges, Israeli exporters are working diligently to find alternative solutions and maintain efficient transportation of Orri mandarins to international markets. As our main markets are West Europe and North America, we are not influenced by the situation in the Arab Gulf, as the shipping lines start the route from the ports of Israel directly to the West.”
“With the peak export season approaching, Orri mandarin volumes are expected to increase steadily in the coming weeks. The weakness of the local currency (NIS) compared to the foreign currencies, Euro and US$, assists us to compensate for the decreased volume. Fruit quality is anticipated to remain excellent, ensuring a satisfying experience for consumers worldwide and the prices are likely to remain stable,” Ohana concludes.