Israeli Growers Join Global Produce Expo, Despite Boycott Threat

YERUSHALAYIM -

Dozens of Israeli agriculturalists are participating in the world’s biggest fruit and vegetable exposition in Berlin this week, reflecting confidence in the market despite the threat of a boycott, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Delegation members are hoping for an increase in the presence of Israeli fruits and vegetables on Europe supermarket shelves in 2014, according to Hemdat Sagi, the Economy Ministry’s commercial attaché in Berlin.

If so, it would be a repeat of last year’s impressive performance, when Israel’s fresh produce exports totaled $1.2 billion, about a 10 percent increase from the previous year, according to data from the Israel Export Institute. About 60% of these exports went to European Union countries.

But for Jordan Valley farmers, on the front line of any boycott, the story was different. Their income dropped by more than 14% in 2013 due to boycotts entered into by food chains in the UK and Scandinavia, according to statistics from the Molad Center for the Renewal of Israeli Democracy.

The Israel Export Institute could not furnish figures regarding percentage increases or decreases in fruit and vegetable sales coming out of Yehuda and Shomron. Nor did it have a breakdown on what percentage of Israeli fruit and vegetable exports originate from which region.

Diplomatic clouds notwithstanding, more than 90% of Israeli agricultural exports continue to be shipped to Europe, and markets in Russia and in Eastern Europe are expanding as well, said Yaara Shimony, the business development manager for fresh produce at the Israel Export Institute.

In any event, the Israeli exporters will have an opportunity to meet and mingle with industry leaders from all over the world, including buyers from Europe’s leading supermarket chains, the Economy Ministry said.