Despite boycott threats against Israeli products by European institutions, Israeli agriculturalists are heading to the world’s biggest fruit and vegetable expo in Berlin, to flaunt their wares.
Led by the Economy Ministry’s Israel Export Institute and the Agriculture Ministry, Israeli companies sporting fresh produce from red pomelos to Japanese plums to a variety of dates will take part this week in Fruit Logistica 2014, the leading trade fair for international fresh produce.
Dozens of Israeli exporters will mingle with industry leaders from all over the world, participating in around 200 meetings with buyers from Europe’s leading supermarket chains, the Economy Ministry said.
“Israel is a household name in the food world thanks to the innovation that we bring to the industry,” Economy Minister Naftali Bennett said.
“It is possible to see products based on Israeli developments in every global market, and I wish success to the exporters representing the best of Israeli innovation at the exhibition.
You drive the Israeli economy and are ambassadors for the Israeli economy to the world.”
Hemdat Sagi, the ministry’s commercial attaché in Berlin, stressed that the delegation members aim to see an increased amount of Israeli fruits and vegetables available on supermarket shelves throughout Europe.
In 2013, exports of Israel’s fresh fruit and vegetables 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, the data said.
Jordan Valley farmers, however, saw their income drop by more than 14% last year due to boycotts from chains in the UK and Scandinavia, statistics presented by the Molad Center for the Renewal of Israeli Democracy indicated.
In response to a query from The Jerusalem Post, the Israel Export Institute spokeswoman said that her office does not have figures as to percentage increases or decreases in fruit and vegetable sales coming out of Judea and Samaria as a whole. The institute also could not report what percentage of Israeli fruit and vegetable exports hail from that region.
Nonetheless, more than 90% of Israeli agricultural exports still head to Europe, and markets in Russia and in Eastern Europe are growing all the time, said Yaara Shimony, the business development manager for fresh produce at the Israel Export Institute.
“Against global competition, Israeli farmers offer not only high quality but also a multi-seasonal supply, with a short arrival time and long shelf-life,” Shimony said.
“The national pavilion [in Berlin] is a showcase of quality and unique products generated by Israeli farmers.”