Israelis love their apples, especially on Rosh Hashana, with an estimated 20 million, or 3,000 tons, of the traditional holiday fruit expected to be sold in the days leading up to the start of the new year,
"This year, we are seeing different varieties of apples and also apples that are of a higher quality," said Amos Levine, director general of the refrigeration division in the Galilee Development Company (GDC) and chairman of the apple division in the Plant Growers Association. "We have also improved our refrigeration technology, a move that will allow consumers to enjoy apples that were picked months earlier and then stored in chilled warehouses."
According to the GDC, in the week leading up to Rosh Hashana, apple sales will increase 25 percent above sales levels from the rest of the year, with consumers choosing from varieties of the fruit including the classics "Gala" and "Pink Lady."
Galil apple-growers, which are responsible for approximately 95% of the apples grown in the country, have also worked hard this year to produce lesser known species such as "Braeburn," which is a crisp and moderately tart apple good for use in pies and sauces, and "Fuji," a juicy and tasty offering that is best eaten in its natural state.
"The research and development that our growers conduct - experimenting with different soils and amounts of water and light - allows us to produce fruit that keeps on getting better each year," said Levine.
Over the past year, said the GDC, some 110 tons of apples have been picked, similar to numbers from 2006, with the majority being sold to Israeli markets and some 5,000 tons shipped to countries in the Mediterranean region, including Syria and the Gaza Strip.
While Israelis are apple lovers year-round with the average citizen consuming approximately 20 kilograms of apples annually, part of the reason sales spike ahead of Rosh Hashana is that Jews take very seriously the tradition of starting the new year off in a "sweet" fashion, by dipping apples into honey.
As to be expected, honey sales have also swelled leading up to the holiday, with the Israel Export Institute reporting that exports of honey have climbed 10% this season, with 320,000 jars of the sweet stuff being shipped to countries around the world, including the US, Canada, the UK, Belgium, Germany and France.
Honey exporters are expecting yields of $270,000 from the holiday period, the Export Institute said.
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