Historically caught up in the geopolitical struggle between the U.S. and Russia, these days Israel finds itself in the awkward position of benefiting from East-West tensions.
As a result of its retaliatory economic sanctions on food imports from the U.S., the European Union, Canada and Australia, Russia is seeking to make up for the shortfall with produce from Israel. Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev announced this week that the ban on fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy products becomes effective immediately and will last for one year.
Israel has been asked to increase exports of fruits, particularly apples and plums.
Kashrus authorities in Israel and Russia are alert to the need for supervision of the exports in regard to trumos and maasros and, this year, Shemittah. Mashgichim in Russia are already gathering data on the prospective imports for presentation to the chief rabbi of Russia, Harav Berel Lazar, who will decide on policy.
The Russian development comes as buyers in Gaza, Jordan and some European countries have been refusing to buy Israeli mangoes due to Operation Protective Edge.
Most recently, a buyer for a supermarket chain in Montreal said that it would not be buying Israeli fruit, Haaretz reported.
Amir Porat, marketing manager for Adom Fruits, which exports primarily pomegranate and mango, noted that, “Unfortunately, the Russian market isn’t a big consumer of mangoes, so it can’t replace the declining demand from Europe.”
Porat pointed out that lower European demand could be tied to an excess of produce there created by the Russian boycott, and not necessarily an expression of anti-Israel sentiment.