A combination of reduced yields and a shortage of pickers has drastically reduced exports of Jaffa citrus so far this season. Latest figures from Mehadrin show its shamouti shipments are 32% lighter than at the same time in 1999/2000. Both Marsh Seedless and Sunrise grapefruit are down marginally more, and minneolas slashed by 47%. The only relatively bright spot is with Suntinas where availability is running at about the same rate as last year. Following a season where Israeli growers were hit by a vast Spanish crop, this year currency exchange rates have meant fruit has to be sold for more on European markets. Currently around £8/ctn is needed for oranges on the wholesale markets. However, consultant director Yoram Weinberg believes this is a transitional situation because unprofitable citrus groves on the coastal belt have been grubbed out to make way for industry. Mehadrin and the growers for which it packs are rebuilding volume mainly in the Neghev. Nevertheless Weinberg believes the period of mass marketing of oranges as a commodity is passing, with supermarkets becoming more interested in special varieties and presentations. {{M/E FRESH PRODUCE }}