Despite a variety of challenges, Betsalel Ohana, export manager for Planet Israel, is positive about the upcoming citrus season in Israel: “The cultivation period for Israeli citrus in 2023 has been largely favorable, with warm temperatures and adequate rainfall contributing to healthy fruit development. However, some challenges have arisen, including a shortage of agricultural labor and rising input costs, unfortunately, subject to the war that was started a few weeks ago in our region. We believe and are all working in order to solve this shortage of labour force in the coming weeks.”
Thanks to expansion of acreage in Israel, the production is expected to be a bit higher than average over the past few years, Ohana explains. “Despite these challenges, production in 2023 is expected to reach around 160,000 metric tons, slightly higher than the average of the past five years. This increase is primarily due to the expansion of citrus orchards in recent years.”
Ohana emphasizes that the brands that Israel is known for help a lot in maintaining demand for the citrus: “Current demand for Israeli citrus is strong, both domestically and internationally. The fruit's high quality, unique flavor profile, and association with the Jaffa brand and Orri Brand have made it a popular choice among consumers worldwide. Some markets are performing better than others. Exports to Europe and North America have been particularly strong, while shipments to Asia have been slightly lower, due to increased competition from other citrus-producing countries.”
As the holiday season comes closer, Ohana expects demand to increase even further. “The Orri mandarin, a late-ripening variety developed in Israel, is currently the most popular citrus export, accounting for around 65% of shipments. Other popular varieties include Sunrise (Star Ruby) Red grapefruit and more. With Christmas approaching, demand for citrus is expected to surge, particularly for easy-to-peel varieties, like mandarins and clementines. Israeli growers and exporters are well-positioned to meet this demand, with ample supplies of high-quality fruit available.”
“Overall, the outlook for the Israeli citrus season is positive. Production is expected to be strong, demand is robust, prices and good currency rates between the NIS/Euro and NIS/US$ are expected to remain relatively stable. Growers and exporters are optimistic about the upcoming holiday season and are confident that Israeli citrus will continue to be a favorite among consumers worldwide,” Ohana concludes.