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Exports to Europe declined

Israeli cherry tomatoes from the desert mainly to Russia

Erez Eitan from Dvine Growers

The export of Israeli tomatoes to Europe has very much declined in the last few years. Now the biggest importer of Israeli vegetables is Russia and also on the local market, the growers can do good business.

Erez Eitan is a cherry tomato grower in the Negev desert, near the border of Egypt. He has a ten hectare greenhouse in which he grows tomatoes under his own brand, called Dvine Growers. Eitan is very focused that his produce is safe, this is his first priority. His test results show that he has an extreme low level of MRL on his produce.

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The trolleys have to be moved through the desert sand.

For his cherry production he has chosen the Israeli variety Fibi. “Ninety percent of our produce is exported to Russia. To Europe we export maybe only ten containers during the whole season.”

In the past this was different. Then, most of the cherry tomatoes were shipped to the UK and Europe, but about four years ago the competition got bigger and the Israelian grower couldn’t compete with the quality of the Dutch tomatoes. “We do not use air cargo and it takes two weeks to ship the produce to Europe. By the time they arrive there, they don’t look as good as the produce that didn’t have to travel so far.”

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Lots of greenhouses in Moshav Kmehin

Another reason is that it’s not profitable to export his cherry tomatoes to Europe, because of the low price he gets for his produce. “On the local market I can get at least two Euro for a kilo. Of course we have competition, but this region is the best place to grow this kind of cherry tomato and the consumer is willing to pay a good price for these locally grown cherries.”

Usually November is a bad month for the tomato grower, but not this year. “Because of the Russian boycott, the export this month is really good.” He is not afraid that, once the boycott will be lifted, business will get difficult for him. “Especially in the summer the local market is very good and I think the Russian import companies still want to work with me, because of the quality of the D’Vine brand. They don’t want to work with the big export companies, but with me it's different because I am part of Dvine growers.”

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Erez Eitan shows his production in his packaging of Dvine Growers

The price of most vegetables in Israel depends on the price of big tomatoes. “The big tomato is the queen of the market. Every farmer likes the big tomato, even when he doesn’t grow it. The reason for this is that Israeli people eat a lot of vegetables. They eat them with breakfast, lunch and dinner. When the price of big tomatoes is high, the consumer still wants to eat that vegetable and will choose other vegetables to eat with it. So when the price op big tomatoes is getting higher, the complete market will go after that.”

Nine years ago, Eitan built the first greenhouse with his own two hands and over the years the greenhouse area increased to an acreage of ten hectares. Eitan has no intention to grow even bigger. “It’s possible for us to increase, but I prefer to focus on a good and high quality product and a high production.”

For more information:
Erez Eitan
Dvine Growers
Tel: +972(52) 2265225
[email protected]