Unlike in the Netherlands, where it typically spans from spring to winter, the bell pepper production period for the Israeli company Arava Export Growers runs from autumn to summer. “We plant in late July and the growing lasts until December. Yields are also lower, of about 70 tonnes per hectare,” affirms Arava Valley manager Yonatan Bar-On.

In terms of varieties, 68% of the company’s peppers are red, 20% yellow and 12% orange. 95% of the total goes to the export market and only 5%, mostly produce unsuitable for export, is sold in the domestic market.

Peppers grown in a greenhouse in the Arava Valley

For irrigation, the firm makes uses of two underground aquifers. The Arava Valley’s rainfall is extremely low, of just 24 mm per year; as a result, “we don’t get some diseases, like Fusarium or botrytis; however, the dry weather can favour the appearance of powdery mildew or red mites,” says Yonatan.

One of the country’s characteristics is the great variations in average temperatures, with differences of up to 6 degrees. This entails that each region is able to cultivate different crops and achieve various results in terms of yield.

Yonatan explains that “one of the main problems is that you cannot grow on local soil, you have to mix it with sand that is brought in trucks and lots of compost, and it’s very expensive. The cost per hectare amounts to 50,000 Euro, not taking the compost into account.”

In any case, due to the varieties and agro techniques used, the company can guarantee a long shelf life. “All processes from harvest to shipment are controlled very strictly to ensure this, and peppers can reach a shelf life of more than three weeks,” assures Yonatan. “We also guarantee consistency, which is another quality that retailers look for.”

Regarding business, Israel exports 50% of its production to Western Europe and the other 50% to Russia. Yonatan explains that “in Russia, they like big calibres, regardless of shape, so the qualities that most breeders are interested in are size, then yield, and then quality and shelf life.”

Regarding the current situation in Russia, Yonatan explains that the political context has become really difficult, “but if you have agreements, as mostly you work for a long time with the same people, you need to maintain that trust.”

“I’ve also heard that European retailers are afraid we will not send peppers to Europe, but at Arava Export we’re not planning to do that. Europe will understand that Israel is a good player in the market and that for European importers just to rely on Spanish production would not benefit anyone,” concludes Yonatan.

For more information:
Malou Even
Arava Export Growers Ltd.
Tel : +972-3-972-8-104