Yonatan Packing & Marketing is a 20 year old Israeli packing house owned by two moshavs and devoted mostly to the cultivation of mangoes, as well as avocados and citrus in the winter. “We produce 10,000 tons per year and deal with clients in Europe (the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and the UK), Russia, and Jordan and, of course, the local market, as well as Gaza and the West Bank,” explains owner CEO Moshe Meiri.
The mango varieties exported by Yonatan include the Tommy Atkins, Keitt, Kent, Maya, Shelly and Omer. According to Mr. Moshe, Europe prefers the Kent and the Omar, as well as “a really good new variety called Castory-Omer, which is fibreless and reaches calibres between 8 and 10. It is a mango with a longer shelf life than the Kent, but shorter than the Keitt.”
In the European retail market, the convenience of ready-to-eat products is increasingly appreciated, and according to Mr. Moshe, this is a trend that can certainly be capitalized in order to boost sales. “Mangoes are available in all colours, but the green Omer and Shelly are the most commonly used varieties for the ready-to-eat European ripening program, while the red are for fresh consumption.”
Retail sales are in fact of paramount importance for Yonatan, as the company’s produce is mostly targeted at this market, where it competes directly with producers from countries like Brazil, Peru and the Dominican Republic. “Spain is also currently becoming a big player, and we were sure that it would arrive with very big quantities this campaign, but it ended up not being a big issue during our season,” says Mr. Moshe Meiri.
This, in any case, does not mean that the campaign was easy for Yonatan. Mr. Moshe Meiri actually affirms that “I have been in the business for more than 20 years and this has been one of the hardest I remember, so I look forward to some rest before we start again in February.”
Meanwhile, the avocado season is only just starting and prospects are good. One of the key factors, which Mr. Moshe Meiri states is very important in this game, is the weather. “In the winter, we do 3 to 4 containers of avocado a week, while in the summer we do that amount per day.”
Another important aspect when it comes to exports, taking into account the shelf life of both mangoes and avocados, are shipping times. The firm has managed to enter the South African market, and Mr. Moshe Meiri assures that Russia has also been good. “Four or five years ago, we started with class 2 and low quality to Russia, and now they demand the highest quality. It is a market that knows exactly what it wants, with specific requirements that need to be met.”
Lastly, there are big differences in consumption habits between different countries that need to be taken into account in terms of marketing. “European retailers, for example, have been switching from green skin varieties to the Hass, which for them are much easier to handle, with a much lower waste percentage, but Israeli growers still prefer the Ettinger, as it is huge in the domestic market and generates much more revenue,” concludes Moshe Meiri.