Root Vegetables Fresh from Israeli Fields to Europe's Shelves

The company grows and markets special varieties, according to European demand and customers' requirements in the target markets
January 15, 2019
Root Vegetables Fresh from Israeli Fields to Europe's Shelves (Enlarge)

"Hevel Maon" Enterprises is a large marketing and export concern for Israel's root vegetables, primarily potatoes, carrots and radishes. The company is a 60 year old cooperative owned by 10 kibbutzim, located under the jurisdiction of the Eshkol Regional Council.
 

The company grows and markets special varieties, according to European demand and customers' requirements in the target markets, as per precise orders that reach its offices. Chen Itzik, a company executive, explains that "Hevel Maon" controls the entire production and marketing process – from seed purchase through growing stages to packing and finally marketing. Thus, they perform the process for the company's owners, who are the farmers, according to a business model directed toward income, minus costs, being transferred entirely to the growers.

Hevel Maon's reputation rests on its lengthy experience, but Chen notes that in recent years the company has adjusted itself to market requirements and changes that occur in it. The company supplies one quarter of local potatoes consumption, to the extent of 100,000 tons potatoes annually, and an additional 30,000 tons of its produce are designated for export.


 

In recent years Hevel Maon has understood that the European market is oriented toward consumption of niche varieties.  That refers to "new potatoes", namely fresh potatoes that have not been stored for a long time in refrigeration, but rather are marketed to consumers as close as possible to the date of harvesting from the earth. Israeli potatoes reach European markets between March and June, after long months of consuming refrigerated potatoes. At this stage the demand increases for new potatoes from Israel, and the company becomes a solo player.

Chen notes that in recent years, along with increased awareness of healthy nutrition, there is a noticeable increase in demand for carrots, that contain beta-carotene, especially in the Eastern markets, but in western European countries as well and the U.S. The farmers organized in "Hevel Maon" produce about 35,000 tons of carrots, half of which is designated for export.
Israeli carrots, grown here during the winter season, reach the shelves of European supermarkets within two to three weeks from being harvested. Another reason for increased demand for local carrots is connected with the fact that climactic changes are making it hard for farmers worldwide to produce crops at a rate that meets demand.

 


Israeli radishes, as well, particularly the "baby radish" variety, are in great demand in Europe. Chen explains that cold winters make it hard for farmers to grow radishes except in greenhouses, which makes inputs more expensive for farmers.  Hevel Maon farmers produce 8,000 tons of radishes per year, of which 4,500 tons are for export. 70% of the amount designated for export are marketed to Russia, and the rest to England and other European countries. So Israeli radishes are served to diners in those countries during their harsh winter months, from November through late April.

Chen reemphasizes that Hevel Maon is aware of changing market needs. One of the emerging changes is the growing demand for organic produce, and therefore the company's directors have begun to encourage co-op members to raise organic crops, especially carrots and potatoes.
Until two years ago, Hevel Maon Company representatives were satisfied with visiting the Fruit Logistica Fair without setting up a pavilion, but this will be the third year that the company will erect a pavilion at this important expo, and will concentrate their activity there, for the benefit of veteran and new customers alike.

Hevel Maon will participate in the Fruit Logistica Fair to be held in Berlin between 6-8 February 2019, at the Export Institute pavilion- Hall B, CityCube

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