Israel has shrugged off its volatile security situation to post a bumper harvest of most crops, according to major importer Agrexco.
In fact, it said the only cloud on the horizon was the lower mango harvest and stiff competition in the loose cherry tomato market from growers in Morocco and Senegal.
General manager Amos Orr of Agrexco UK told The Grocer that he expected the volume of avocados shipped to British retailers to nearly triple this season to 10,000 tonnes, up from 3,500 tonnes last year. "It has been a huge avocado season. We expect to ship a lot of organic avocado to the UK, which is one of our fastest-growing markets."
The red grapefruit crop, soon to start shipping to the UK, was also showing good yields, Orr said. And despite a smaller crop, higher mango prices were making up for the shortfall on most varieties, particularly the increasingly popular ready-to-eat Maya and Shelly mangos. Growth in this market had eased from its rate of 500% in 2004, but sales were still expected to double this year.
Orr said that salad crops had also proven successful with good prices in all areas except for cherry tomatoes. But he forecast potential problems when the main orange crop started to arrive in January. "There are many more oranges this year than last. While I wouldn't say that lower prices are a threat, it may be hard to market them all in the UK, so we will look at other outlets, such as Scandinavian countries."
Agrexco's Hayes headquarters was picketed by pro-Palestinian activists last week, forcing the company to call in the police. However, Orr said there was no impact on business, which continued as usual, and no arrests were made.
"The protesters left saying they were disappointed not to have been arrested," he added.