Thanks to an extended season that started earlier than usual and is expected to last into mid-May, exports of Israel’s Jaffa Orri Mandarins are on track to double this year.
And on top of this year’s ambitious goal, head of the citrus division of the Plant Production and Marketing Board of Israel, Tal Amit, tells PBUK how exports sales will skyrocket by 2020 as the 55,000 hectares of plantings across Israel’s coastal regions begin to mature.
“We know this is a really big jump. We’re talking about around hitting 100,000 metric tonnes of exports as last year we did around 60,000 MT so that’s a huge increase but it’s entirely possible for us,” he told us during Fruit Logistica in Berlin last week.
“We kicked off the season earlier than usual and had the Jaffa Orri Mandarin variety available in the third week of December as we had early maturing, which meant supply was around one week or so earlier than normal.
“This of course is extremely advantageous for us as we can extend the big volumes as we have more time. And we’ll be on the shelf with this variety until April and maybe even into mid May, whereas usually we would be finished by mid April.”
Amit says growers in Israel are harvesting every single day, weather permitting, and spoke about the recent extreme weather in Europe helping Israel’s export season get off to a flying start.
“When it’s very cold in Europe, as it has been, it’s advantageous for us in terms of consumption as people are eating more citrus and we know from experience that warm winters are very bad for the marketing business.
“The start of the year has been a real struggle for growers and exporters around Europe, especially in Spain. In turn, it’s good for us.”
New market push
The Plant Production & Marketing Board was established in 2004 to assist farmers in advancing their agricultural missions by promoting the Jaffa brand and other registered citrus industry brands. It helps kick-start pioneering R&D projects, executes centralised crop protection initiatives, assists organisations in meeting phytosanitary standards and insures growers against weather-related losses.
Amit is conscious of avoiding a glut in the European market as Spanish and Moroccan competitors also have good volumes this year.
Ramping up export sales this season means diversifying markets, especially looking outside of Europe and the UK, he explains.
“We are also increasing exports in new markets and not only aiming towards Europe. In order to reach the goals we want to achieve we can’t aim to export all the fruit to just the EU because of our quantities, and of course the Spanish and Moroccans also selling their citrus to Europe.
“We cannot just expect to do the same as they also have good volumes this year. We are going to other places like North America and Far East and generally spreading our fruit all over.
“We are eventually going to reach 200,000 tonnes if everything goes okay and export will increase by another 50% over the next few years to 150,000 tonnes and then climb higher still.”
Amit adds how there is limited production of Orri Mandarins - not marketed under the Jaffa Orri Mandarin brand - in Spain producing lower volumes at the moment but with production increases expected in the coming years.
“There are currently 55,000 hectares under production at the moment in Israel so first of all we have to fulfil the potential of this planted area, and then see what is next.
“Maybe the following stage will be with another variety as we are involved in some heavy R&D work which may well come to fruition in one or two years time. If you stay where you are, you’re going backwards and we must always look for the next big thing.”