Tal Amit, head of the citrus sector at Israel’s Plant Production and Marketing Board, is optimistic over the new Orri Jaffa mandarin campaign, with volumes up and markets such as North America and Asia becoming ever-more favourable for the fruit. And while Europe is “stagnating”, he points out to eurofruit that it remains the major market by export volume for the country’s premium citrus brand.
What have been the major stories coming out of the Israeli citrus market recently?
Tal Amit: The 2018/19 Israeli citrus season shows high quantities compared with the previous year, especially for major export products like Sunrise grapefruit, which is at its peak, and Orri Jaffa mandarins. The latter’s harvest commenced in December and will last until May 2019, with the crop beating expectations and boasting good qualities. Both are major export varieties that have increased their reputation over the years. We service each market specifically with this fruit, based on specifications like size, colour and branding.
What key trends have you seen in the past year, and how have they affected your operations?
TA: With long-term experience we have seen the stagnation of citrus consumption in Europe, while Asian and East Asian markets increase their interest in premium citrus varieties like Orri Jaffa, which we call the king of mandarins. Therefore, Jaffa brand marketing companies have increased marketing efforts in these markets, with high demand year-on-year in Japan, China, Korea and even Australia.
The US, a big citrus supplier, suffers from several diseases in certain varieties, causing deterioration and lower volumes domestically. Therefore, the North American markets of the US and Canada have become an attractive prospect for Jaffa citrus. However, the reality is that global production of oranges, lemons and easy-peelers continuously increases. This fact increases competition and causes marketing difficulties year-by-year.
Which markets will you supply in 2019?
TA: For the 2018/19 season, October to May, plans are for over 180,000 tonnes of exports worldwide, and half of this will be made up of Orri Jaffa. Major markets are in Europe, which takes on 65 per cent of volumes, while fruit is also shipped to the US, Canada, Japan, China, Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia.
Are you eyeing any new markets this year, or looking to at new varieties?
TA: In 2019 the Orri Jaffa brand will focus its sales promotion and marketing activities budget on Japan and North America. New varieties and products are always in the pipeline. The Plant Production and Marketing board closely cooperates in research with the Volcani R&D institute, searching for new items and improved species. Orri Jaffa, an Israeli patented mandarin, is constantly seeing improved variations to find the optimum fruit in terms of taste, size, colour, shelf life, seasonality and appearance. We never stop developing and searching for the best.
New markets are also in our thoughts to increase customer satisfaction – however, these new markets involve barriers and bureaucracy constraints that can last years due to phytosanitary requirements and other international demands that have become major obstacles for introducing new exports.
We find demand from everywhere in the world including Africa and India. The latter is in our focus, and we have submitted an official request to the Indian authorities, a procedure that can last years and is still not resolved yet.