One of the main export cultures in Israel are capsicums. Many varieties are available: from classic bell peppers to tiny extra hot chili peppers, in many colors, to cater every taste. Harvest starts as early as September, but since until November there are lots of local capsicums available in Europe, main export season starts somewhere between November and December and lasts till end of April. Main export markets for Israeli capsicums are the Netherlands, UK and Russia.
In Israel capsicums are grown in large greenhouses, in two main areas at the South of the country: West of Negev desert and Arava valley. Like in many countries, growers heavily rely on imported workforce, in our case from China and Thailand. Most of the workers are well educated or have intention for high education and work on several years contracts. Some of them stay in this business after the contracts end, with growers helping them to gain positions in international agricultural companies. Their jobs are not easy – on sunny days temperatures inside the greenhouse can cross 30 degrees, with very little fresh air.
Most popular bell peppers are available in 5 main colors: red, orange, yellow, light and dark green. Ripe fruit can weight up to 700 grammes. Large varieties are usually packed in 5 kg carton boxes, although it’s possible to pack into vacuum packages and plastic boxes – the popular “traffic light” is a good example, however some growers dislike it: if a single capsicum isn’t fresh, the whole package gets discarded, and it’s a waste for the importer. Various hot peppers are packed in transparent plastic boxes of 250-500 grammes.
For transport, capsicums can be mixed with cherry tomatoes, aubergines, even with small quantity of avocado on a short transit time.