Israel Citrus Exports Expected to Climb

Ernie Neff Export/Import

Exports of citrus from Israel in 2021-22 are forecast to reach 158,000 metric tons, up 16% from 2020-21, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) reported. However, FAS cautioned that exports could be lower “if higher-than-normal freight costs and limited shipping options continue.”

Israel is seeking new export markets that will be able to absorb its produce with little competition from other countries. Currently, the aim is to increase exports of grapefruit mainly to Asian markets due to the lack of competition and favorable prices. These markets give a higher dollar value for the product compared to closer markets such as Europe where Israeli produce faces stiff competition from other exporting countries such as Morocco and Spain. Also, elongated export seasons of the Southern Hemisphere compete with the early yield of Israeli citrus.

The Israeli citrus industry intends to expand shipments to China, Japan and South Korea, as well as gain access to other markets, such as Australia and India. Currently, these two markets are closed for Israeli citrus exports due to sanitary and phytosanitary issues.

Two varieties made up 79% of citrus exports from Israel in 2020-21 — red grapefruit with 36,000 metric tons and the Or mandarin variety with 72,000 metric tons.

Exports of U.S. fresh citrus to Israel are currently not permissible. A Pest Risk Assessment (PRA) has not been conducted for U.S. citrus. Diseases such as citrus greening are not found in Israel, and greening is considered a quarantine pest, automatically blocking imports from any country that citrus greening is found in. Indications are that even if Israel’s Plant Protection Inspection Services conducted a PRA for U.S. citrus, high shipping costs would limit the commercial viability. In addition, Israel does not import any fresh citrus fruit and is not expected to do so in the coming years.

See the full FAS report on Israel’s citrus industry.

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service

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