Home Industry News Economics Israel May Seek U.S. Pistachio & Vegetable Imports Due to Turkish Trade Ban

Israel May Seek U.S. Pistachio & Vegetable Imports Due to Turkish Trade Ban

USDA Foreign Ag Service — Turkey, Israel’s third largest foreign supplier of imported agricultural and related products, recently announced a ban on all trade with Israel due to the regional conflict. Accordingly, Israeli importers may look to source certain agricultural imports from elsewhere. Israel’s leading agricultural and related imports from Turkey include fresh and processed agricultural produce—specifically tomatoes, olive oil, cucumbers, onions, and eggplant. For the United States, pistachios may be in greater demand as Turkey is the only other foreign supplier to the Israeli market.

Turkey Bans all Trade with Israel

On May 2, 2024, Turkey announced a ban on all trade with Israel due to the “worsening humanitarian tragedy” in Gaza. According to the Turkish Minister of Trade, the ban will be lifted when a sufficient flow of humanitarian aid flows into Gaza. As a result of the ban, the Israeli government is looking to increase domestic production, Israeli importers are looking for new or expanded sourcing for certain agricultural imports, and regional media reports some Israeli importers are looking for alternative routes to circumvent the ban from Turkey.

Depending on its length, the trade ban could significantly impact the Israeli market as Turkey is a strong trading partner due to its geographical proximity, a bilateral free trade agreement established in 1996, and competitive prices. Moreover, in the past six months, many Israeli importers looked to increase imports from Turkey as trade via the Red Sea has been disrupted by Houthi attacks on vessels passing through the Bab al-Mandab Strait.

Turkish Exports to Israel

In calendar year 2023, total Israeli imports from Turkey were valued at roughly $5.3 billion (5.7 percent of total Israeli imports). For agricultural and related products, Turkey was the third largest foreign supplier to Israel, after Russia and the United States. Israel imported $543 million in agricultural and related products from Turkey (5 percent of the total value of its agricultural and related imports) in 2023.

As seen in the chart below, Turkish tomato exports represent the largest agricultural export to Israel. However, sourcing for other agricultural products, such as olive oil, sunflower seeds, and certain types of fish, may also be impacted. Furthermore, a quick increase in Israeli production for some agricultural products would be difficult to realize as it could take many months or years to sufficiently supply gaps.

For the United States, pistachios may see increased opportunities as Israel only imports pistachios from Turkey and the United States (Note: Total value of Israeli imports of pistachios totaled $40.5 million in 2023).

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