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Bad start yet again for Israeli bell pepper

After a number of bad years, this season was looking to be better for Israeli bell pepper growers. The Russian boycott was to give the sector good export opportunities. But nothing could be further from the truth, says Frank Mosterd of Gilad. "It's as if they switched to eating potatoes and carrots instead of bell peppers."

Risky market
"Everyone thought it would be exceptional, but the opposite is true. Instead of being a very good market, the Russian market is very risky." That's what Frank Mosterd of Gilad says about the Israeli bell pepper export to Russia, which doesn't seem to get off the ground. "The Russian economy isn't going well, the rouble isn't working in our favour, and demand is limited," he explains. "Perhaps the period between the boycott and the Israeli season was too long." Until a few weeks ago, prices were still reasonable in Russia, but meanwhile a lot of Israeli produce has been shipped. "The market is saturated." The organic market is having a tough time as well at the moment. "We started out with reasonable prices, but currently the prices are also too low for the time of year."

Third bad year in a row
For the Israeli bell pepper sector, this is the third, downright bad year in a row. "I was there last week," Mosterd says, "and I haven't spoken to a single optimistic grower." Just like in the Netherlands, many cultivation companies are under water. "Quite a lot of growers are going bankrupt, and instead of those greenhouses being emptied, they're bought by other growers." Cultivation companies also rent out their greenhouses to other growers, or to export companies, and the acreage remains constant. "November and December have already been bad in recent years – we have to make our money in January, February and March. If that turns out badly, even more growers will have to quit."

For the coming weeks, Mosterd is expecting improvements. "The market is slowly starting to recover again. Also because of the holidays, we are shipping more now." Since Friday, there's been a bit more demand. That means prices of around 7.00 Euro for red and yellow, and 8.5 Euro for orange, per 5 kg box. "From Spain, not a lot of oranges are coming. That's when you see buyers switching to Israeli produce." But if there aren't any shortages, it's hard for Israel to gain a foothold in Europe. "Just like last year, you see the programmes for packaged bell peppers in Spain, which is the main reason for the limited demand for Israeli bell peppers in the Netherlands." A pity, actually, Mosterd remarks. "Because the upside is that the quality is really top notch this year."

For more information:
Gilad Produce
Tel: +31 174 518 530
Fax : +31 174 528 502
Frank Mosterd
Mob: +316-2255 6700

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