Ori Porat, bell pepper grower in Israel:

“There is always a market for quality”

Ori Porat has been growing peppers in Israel for over 30 years. The subtropical climate enables the country to produce fruit and vegetables primarily for Northern and Central Europe in the winter months. The level of expertise and quality in Israel is high, and yet many growers are struggling. Rijk Zwaan Area Manager Ahmet Tunali believes that this is mainly due to the fragmented offering since the country’s largest export organisation, Agrexco, went bankrupt six years ago. “This led to the market splintering and weakening. Ori realised that he had to collaborate to survive. He entered into partnership with his colleague Eldad Kruk and together they founded the export company Damka.”

Ori Porat: “We grow and sell blocky types in every possible colour. And their smaller size makes them particularly suitable for the UK market.”

Innovative product range

Damka is involved exclusively in peppers. Between them, the growers own 40 hectares of cultivated land, and they sub-contract production to other growers too resulting in a total of 100 hectares for peppers. “All blocky types, in every possible colour,” explains Ori. “Furthermore, quality is a top priority so it’s essential to choose the varieties carefully. We trial a lot of newcomers through Rijk Zwaan. That enables us to continually offer our international customers good and innovative products, which is greatly appreciated, especially by the British retailers. Our peppers can be found on the shelves in supermarkets such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Asda.”

Class 1

“For yellow peppers we’re currently growing Saramba RZ and for orange ones we are using Arancia RZ. Because both of these varieties are extremely uniform, we are obtaining a large Class 1 percentage. In addition they offer very good productivity and shelf life; the latter is sometimes a weakness of competitive varieties. Our peppers are ideal for flowpack packaging and their smaller size makes them particularly suitable for the UK market, but we also export a lot to Russia, Germany and the USA.”

Contracts versus daily trading

Damka takes two different approaches to selling its peppers. Ori says: “The large retailers prefer contracts. When selling to the UK, for instance, we work with a fixed price. However, many Israeli growers are not used to that method; they still believe in the tradition of daily trading. Day prices still form the basis for our exports to The Netherlands and Russia. Looking to the future, we hope to intensify our relationships. The challenge lies in finding the right solution: the desired product for each supermarket. Specialities will play a greater role, but it will always be a case of ‘quality first’.”

Source: Chain magazine Rijk Zwaan

For more information:
Rijk Zwaan

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