Israeli easy peeler exports could reach new heights in 2017-18 -

Israeli easy peeler exports could reach new heights in 2017-18

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Israeli easy peeler exports could reach new heights in 2017-18

Israel is set to bolster its mandarin and tangerine exports by 17% this coming season on the back of farmland expansion and young orchards coming into maturity.

This is the latest forecast released by the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN), with an estimate of 140,000 metric tons (MT) for easy peelers out of a 213,000MT figure for citrus exports overall.

The majority of the export balance consists of grapefruit, which are set for a marginal rise in volume.

"Additional planted area will reach maturity only in the coming years, so multi-year growth in mandarin and tangerines is expected," the GAIN report said.

The report highlighted that while Israel grows more than 15 easy peeler varieties, almost 90% of mandarin and tangerine exports are of the Orri variety, also known as 'Or'.

"Today the Or variety holds 55 percent of the total exports of the Israeli citrus and 87 percent of the total mandarin/tangerine exports," the report said.

"Currently, there are no new varieties with better characteristics being propagated that could potentially replace the Or in the near future."

The report mentioned total citrus exports were up 20% last year, attributing the rise to an especially good market for easy peeler varieties and grapefruit.

"Short supplies for Israel’s competitors, mainly Morocco and Spain from February till the end of the season, also attributed to increased exports," the report said.

"The Russian market was an exception this year as shipments there decreased. The Russian market tends to be more price sensitive, rather than focused on quality, and a high volume of low-cost Turkish product has displaced Israeli shipments.

"Israel’s citrus exports to Russia and Ukraine accounted for 26 percent of the total citrus exports five years ago. This year Israel’s exported only 11 percent to the region."

The USDA noted Israel had focused on developing more far-flung markets in recent years, such as North America, Japan, China and South Korea.

"These markets give a higher dollar value for the product than others. This year Israel’s exports, to these destinations, were of 40 TMT compared to 28.5 TMT in 2015/16," the report said.

"Israel expects to have a bigger share of exports, to these markets out of its total exports in the future. Meanwhile Israel continues to explore new markets for its products, such as Australia."

The report also noted the strong exchange rate for the Israeli shekel had made exports challenging, and a very price-sensitive fresh citrus market meant drops in the international price often led to a shift towards the domestic market.

While domestic prices were historically high, the USDA said overproduction this year meant fresh fruit prices were almost as low as prices paid by the processing industry.

Domestically-oriented growers are however expected to have a more stable market this year.

"Post expects local consumption of fresh citrus for MY2017/18 to increase to 209 TMT, an 11 percent increase over the 2016/17 marketing year," the report said.

"The increase is expected as a result of the stable security situation with the Palestinian Authority, and the ability to send fruit to the West Bank and Gaza. 

"Last year due to security issues trade with Gaza was slow until February. Almost 25 percent of the fresh locally consumed citrus is sold in Gaza and the West Bank."

Photo: Orri Running Committee

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