Israeli food exports are well on their way to reaching 100 countries, while shipments of manufactured food products generated some $435.9 million for the local economy over the first half of the year, the Manufacturers Association of Israel reported on Monday.
"Over the first half of the year, the growth of the food-export sector in Israel has not only grown in terms of new customers, but sales have increased some 20% above the numbers from last year at this time," said Roni Kobrovsky, chairman of the Federation of Food Manufacturers in the Association and president of Coca-Cola Israel.
The Association noted that after breaking through the 90 country barrier earlier this year, manufacturers are setting their sights on reaching 100 countries, a goal that should be attained within the next few years if the sector continues to grow at a 3% pace, as it has done for the last few years.
Kobrovsky noted, however, that the negative trade gap in the sector has widened over the first half of 2007, growing some 15.6% to $265.3m. as food imports have risen 18.5% to $701.2m.
According to the Manufacturers, the EU is the primary recipient of Israeli food products, having imported $194m., a rise of 11.6% from 2006, followed by the US, which has imported $46m. food products over the first half. Russia reported a leap of 47.5% in Israeli food imports.
The most popular food exports are canned fruit and vegetables, which saw sales increase 18.8% to $148.6m. over the first half, followed by liquor and wine at $14m. and then dairy products with sales of $10.9m. Chocolate accounted for $6.5m. in sales during the first half.