Israel ramps up Europe-bound avocado exports
Israel's overall avocado exports could end up around 50% higher than last season thanks to good growing conditions and new plantings, according to one of the country's leading shippers.
Galilee Export vice president of marketing Eitan Zvi told Fresh Fruit Portal the campaign was about two-thirds complete across all varieties, and it looked as though total exports would finish up in the region of 60,000 metric tons (MT).
The figure for the 2015-16 deal was around 45,000MT, the representative said.
He attributed the significant difference to frosts in a major Israeli growing area last season which impacted volumes, and "ideal" conditions in the country over recent months.
"In general this season is bigger in volume, mainly in the green-skinned varieties, but also in Hass," he said.
"The majority of our shipments so far have been on the green, starting with Ettinger and then Pinkerton, and toward the end of February and March we will send the majority of Hass.
"This is a time that Chile is going out of the market and the customers are looking to Israel for solutions, so we save a lot of our fruit for that period."
So far the export campaign into Europe has been going well, according to Zvi. He said prices had been "reasonable" for the Ettinger season - considering that record volumes were exported - and explained shippers were now in the middle of the Pinkerton deal.
"The prices are quite nice - €9.5-10 (US$10.20-10.70) for a 4-kilogram carton, so there have been nice returns to the growers," he said.
"The quality is quite good on the Pinkerton this year, and also on the Hass. The market has been very stable for the last four weeks - not a lot of ups and downs."
Zvi expects to see another increase in prices over the coming weeks as Chile's volumes wind down. He also commented that the South American country had been increasing its focus on the European market over recent years due to the attractive prices.
In addition, he said whereas earlier in the season there had been a general shortage of larger-sized Hass, the situation seemed to have now turned the other way round.
"With the Hass variety a few weeks ago, when Colombia was in the market, there was big demand for big sizes and less for smaller sizes, and now we see the opposite - we see a shortage in the medium-small avocados and more larger sizes," he said.
In total, Zvi said around 40% of Israel's total avocado exports would correspond to the Hass variety.