A new study by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute Economic Unit found that Israel's potential exports in fresh produce lie in raising and exporting premium and health crops and "superfoods" - products that guarantee high nutritional values in less food. Examples of agricultural produce in this category include pomegranates, dates, and avocado. The study authors believe that exports of these products to existing markets around the world should be stepped up, and that new markets should be developed for them. The study was led by Hebrew University Prof. Amir Heiman, with the participation of the Plants Production and Marketing Board and the Ministry of Agriculture.
The study recommends establishing agricultural cooperatives in Israel for managing exports and marketing produce overseas in order to improve the exporters' bargaining power and enable them to offer their customers worldwide a diverse basket of products.
The study also recommends that makers of agricultural policy formulate a new strategy that will enable Israeli farmers to reestablish themselves in the Western European market, penetrate the Eastern bloc markets, and appeal to economically advantaged people in Russia, while at the same time expanding agricultural exports to the US, Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong. According to the study, the eastern markets are ready for Israeli produce, and are willing to pay for premium products. Another target market that the study authors believe should be taken seriously is the Canadian market, which is willing to pay high prices for imported fresh produce that justify transporting it from Israel.
The study also indicates that Israeli farmers should diversify the produce they export to Europe, especially Germany, France, and the UK, with an emphasis on high-quality and distinctive produce. The study shows that exports of Israeli peppers and potatoes to these markets, which has been going on for years, can continue for a while, but that adhering to it does not eliminate the need to diversify the produce supplied.
In the case of China and India, the study found that Israeli exporters were unable to succeed in exporting non-premium produce. It recommended against starting exports of standard quality agricultural produce to these markets.
"I am convinced that with concentrated and accurate work, the relative advantage of agriculture in many markets around the world can be restored," Export Institute director general Ofer Sachs said today. "In recent years, Israeli agriculture has faced many challenges. Its profits have dwindled and investments have waned, while Israel's reputation as an exporter of high-quality produce has been eroded."
Israeli exports of fresh produce totaled $1.1 billion in 2015, 18% less than in 2014. Half of these exports are sent to the European Union.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on January 19, 2016
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