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Omer Kamp, Arava Export Growers:
“Dependency is the nemesis of free trade”"The bell pepper season started off slow, and everyone was a bit pessimistic," says Omer Kamp from Arava Export Growers in Israel". However, the circumstances in Spain have made consumers realize that one cannot and should not place all the eggs in a single basket."
"Now, all of a sudden, everybody wants something from Israel," says Omer and he continues, "Have you ever been to a Supermarket that offers no Peppers? If you have, did you take your business elsewhere or stay there?" Point is that in today's market, no entity can neither afford nor tolerate a scenario whereby shelves are left empty."
Last year Israel had fewer growers and consequently growing areas have decreased as well. However, this did not necessarily result in higher prices. "Higher prices are relative; you need the right combination of volumes, prices, market conditions and, most importantly, currencies. The devaluation of the Euro presented a major blow to all growers. For instance, if you lose 10% by the Euro's devaluation and increase your prices by 5% then you still end up losing. Nevertheless, the season ended up on the positive side."
It's all about perspectives
"During this season and last, we have been selling fair amounts of product, it is however a matter of perspective. Every year that you’re busy and find yourself working till late hours, is a good year - it means you’re doing something right. You win some, you lose some, but as long as you dare, you’ll be all right and you will prevail. At the end of the day, the market decides and we follow", Omer continues. "We are always, eagerly, seeking new markets; we do not want to place all of our eggs in one basket, especially after the turn of events in Spain. This could happen to anyone, one must be prepared because no one is bulletproof. Preparation is our A to Z philosophy."
The Russian market
"The Russian market is like no other market for us. We have no complaints about it and we do a great job in it. However, the Russian market also realizes that we are dependent on it. So again, that is why we shouldn’t put all of our eggs in one basket."
"It is imperative to spread the risks, and that is our current strategy as well. The Rouble remains very expensive but, it’s not as bad as before, it still is an issue, just not as much as in previous years."
"To avoid dependency on the current Status Quo, we try to maintain and offer a wide variety of products. This is for the mere purpose of not focusing only on one line. The goal is to communicate to our clients that they can find most, if not all, of their needs in one place, one location, and one supplier."
Omer continues by explaining: "We are always on the run to find out for ourselves what the next product is going to be, what the next milch cow would look like. For instance, Citrus has never been one of our main products, but we keep selling it so as to satisfy our clients. Medjool dates however are one of our newer, more promising lines. With good quality and sustainable supply, the future seems very promising for dates."
Arava Export Growers is starting to become very big and influential in the Organic market and is now supplying various products to nearly all corners of the globe. "We have cucumbers, sweet pointed peppers, aubergines, bell peppers and other products. We are also planning on taking our organic products to supermarkets, worldwide", Ido Yaari says.
According to him, it is not necessarily harder to sell organic products on the European market. "If anything, it is harder to sell these products in the US, because of the FDA. As soon as they find even the slightest hint of pests, the entire batch is immediately rejected. That is why it is so much harder to sell in the US. But it is a big market that demands a lot of organic produce. They are a much more stable market, whereas the European tends to fluctuate more often." Nevertheless, the commitment is enormous.
"The lines we next want to focus on are strawberries from the Gaza Strip, Habaneros, Exotics and other specialty peppers. We want to work with products that are unique, that no one else has." Arava Export Growers offers an additional service to customers: a weekly report about what to expect in the coming week. "We send out these reports every single week, to explain and inform how the market is developing and what sort of quality and quantity the customer can and should expect. This is mainly done for our fresh herbs, but not exclusively, and it will soon include all our products. We tell our clients what to expect because it’s a dynamic business and we try to provide certainty."
To summarize, Kamp continues by stating: "We can no longer just lay back and enjoy the view, our level of flexibility will dictate the way we confront market conditions in these challenging time."
For more information:
Arava Export Growers
Publication date: 3/10/2017
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