Israeli avocado exporter forecasts bumper crop
Mehadrin's Ronen Eisenberg spoke with www.freshfruitportal.com about his expectations for the season's harvest, with predictions of a 15-20% rise on previous years.
He said the country's total production for the forthcoming season was estimated at 90,000 metric tons (MT), with around half the amount set to be exported. Mehadrin plans to handle 55% of avocado exports, grown on 5,500 hectares of orchards from across the country, particularly in the Upper Galilee region and the coastal plain.
From this surface area, Eisenberg hopes to ship approximately 25,000MT of fruit, mainly from the most popular variety Hass, while the Ettinger stock will make up the bulk of local sales.
Over the last few years, more and more orchards have been planted and Mehadrin is starting to see the results coming through - a key driver for the bullish forecasts.
"We have been planting mainly Hass every year because this is the most wanted variety, and the percentage of the Hass is getting higher every year in our total basket of varieties," Eisenberg said.
"The season is going well and the future months are looking very good. We are the largest exporter of avocados in Israel and the forecasts show we should be looking at a major yield increase on previous years."
Mehadrin is focusing on expanding further in the European market and forging stronger international export ties. Currently it deals with major British supermarkets like Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury's, while also exporting to France, the Netherlands and Germany.
The company has also begun selling outside of Europe, exporting around 200MT of the Hass fruit to South Africa.
"We're pretty much reaching all points in Europe and have our export program set with a lot of supermarkets on the continent. We are now looking to work with more supermarket chains directly because we have the ability to fulfil their needs.
"As growers and exporters, we are giving supermarkets an added value; we are in charge of the fruits from picking to the shelf and this is a very valuable point for supermarkets to consider. We look after the avocados from the field onwards, including packing, logistics and so on and this aspect can be very attractive for supermarkets.
"There is definitely scope for us to do more outside of Europe."
The upcoming season comes ahead of traditional Shmita, a sabbatical year in a seven-year agricultural cycle when, under rabbinical law, no new planting is allowed to take place from September 2014.
"We have many new orchards coming through right at this moment which is, of course, increasing the volume of avocados for the forthcoming season. This will continue to be the case I am sure.
"Simply, we do not plant during this year (Shmita). All the fruit for export will be picked without change; it’s not an issue for export. I know farmers and workers on the field have already planned to cover this."