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US: Imported Israeli bell peppers commanding good prices

Rebounding from last year's low prices, which were single digits per carton, greenhouse bell peppers produced in Canada, Mexico, and the USA are now in the high-teens to low-twenties per carton.

The market has been lucrative for Israeli exporters like MOR USA, which increased shipments of peppers to the U.S. over the past several years. “Two seasons ago, MOR USA had sales of around 30,000 cases of bell peppers. Last Season, we shipped around 200,000 cases.” said Gary Tozzo of MOR USA. “About 60% of the peppers were shipped by boat containers and the rest were brought in via air freight. This season, we expect to at least double our boat shipments and increase our air shipments by 30 percent.” This is despite the fact that bell pepper acreage in Israel has decreased from previous years. Yet, while overall volumes have come down, MOR's network of growers has increased and provided bigger volumes for the company. That increased volume has found a receptive market in the Northeastern part of the U.S.

“Our peppers season starts when the Ontario season slows down,” explained Gary. “Most of those greenhouse growers are done or have limited production by American Thanksgiving. Mexico goes year-round, but volumes are not great until mid-December.” Additionally, water shortages in California have compromised production of open-field peppers. Retailers have shored up supplies of peppers with hothouse product, and the prices for greenhouse peppers have increased accordingly. “Israeli peppers come in at a nice time,” remarked Gary. “We can fly our peppers in, and you will always have clientèle who are willing to pay extra for that freshness. For the customer that is more price sensitive, the container peppers are a good option as we are able to ship on a fast line from Israel to New York.”

MOR USA also ships organic bell peppers from Israel via air, which they have just started to ship. “The market is extremely strong at the moment seeing prices around $30 landed into the New York area.” States Gary. MOR’s pepper season runs from late October through March –early April for both the conventional and organic peppers.

Mor USA increases offerings
Carrot shipments from Israel are set to increase this year, explained Gary. Though the season doesn't get going until February, plans are for shipments to at least double from last season's 20 containers. “We are working with the grower and packing house on getting machinery to increase our availability of packaged carrots, providing 1lb, 2lb, and 5lb carrots along with the 50lb bags.” MOR USA also offers fresh herbs, Medjool dates (also available in organic), and Sharon fruit to the North America in three weeks time.

For more information:
Gary Tozzo
Tel. (610)268-2260
[email protected]

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