Mr. Abraham Lavie
In conversation with Mr. Abraham Lavie, Israel
‘The Israeli market buys with their eyes. The looks of a variety are important, but customers don’t know varieties by name. Whether potatoes are popular, depends on the background of consumers. The majority of Israeli is from European origin. They eat more potatoes than families from the east, who prefer rice.
Our potato market
I manage the import of seed potatoes to Israel and Palestine. There are only four importers in Israel. Three of them are working directly with me. In Palestine there are twelve importers, among which one or two big ones. I work on behalf of the growers. We have more than thirty suppliers, and HZPC is the most important one. Almost 45% of our import, 28.000 tons in total, comes from HZPC.
The market for the local needs and industry is stable. There are three French fries factories and some small factories in Palestine. We have two main crisps factories. The export is also stable; this depends on the European market. The table potato market is 50/50 red and yellow, but red varieties are on the rise. Sifra is the biggest table potato variety; it is head and shoulders above other white skin varieties.
My year round potatoes
I have worked for 27 seasons in this position. In September I am usually busy making the purchasing deals with my customers. From October to December, I spend 60% of my time in Holland. January: clear customs, distribute to growers, make changes, replace varieties, and make payments. March: calculations with growers. May: calculations with importers. In May there are visits of foreign representatives and trial visits. In June/July: I visit the fields in the Netherlands.
My biggest challenge is to get all the varieties that we need on time and in good quality. Almost all the red skin table potatoes Israel are HZPC varieties. We have a very good cooperation with the company. Sometimes HZPC seems too big, because some decisions take a lot of time. But there are also advantages due to the size of the company.‘