Report says Israel no longer has an edge exporting standard fruit and vegetables, but the market for its specialty produce is ripe for the picking.
Israel should become a specialty food leader and focus more on the Asian market, the Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute said on Tuesday, citing a report it conducted together with Hebrew University professor Amir Heiman and the Agriculture Ministry to find ways to counter the increasing financial challenges facing local farmers.
The report, titled Strategy Building for Exporting Fresh Produce from Israel, showed that while revenue from exporting standard items like potatoes and tomatoes have taken a hit in recent years, Israel could carve out its niche in the world market by exporting more “superfoods” such as pomegranates, dates and avocados and tapping developed markets in Asia where specialty foods are in demand.
Japan, Taiwan and Singapore were singled out in the report as the countries to which Israel should step up exports since customers in those locations are willing to pay the prices demanded by Israeli farmers for their premium produce.
Outside of Asia, the report found Canada to be ripe for more Israeli exports because consumers there are used to paying high prices for fresh, imported produce. Those high prices, therefore, would justify the cost of shipping from Israel.
In the European market, specifically Germany, France and Britain, the report recommended that Israel shift its exports solely to specialty products since Israel does not have a competitive edge in exporting the potatoes and peppers traditionally sent to the continent.
Although China and India are known to be some of the fastest-growing markets in the world, the report advised against exporting to those countries just yet since the market overall would not be willing to pay the higher prices for Israeli products, even for standard produce.
David Hayman, general manger of the Farmer’s Federation of Israel, agreed with the report’s recommendations given the fact that Israeli produce exporters have seen their revenues drop 20 percent in the past two years.