Top 12 New Fruit And Vegetable Species Developed In Israel

Abigail Klein Leichman

Israel 21c

Jun 17, 2013

Since the first half of the 20th century, Israeli agricultural wizards have been partnering with Mother Nature to bring new fruit and vegetable varieties to the global market, from vividly colored squash to seedless peppers.

Every year, Israel exports more than $2 billion worth of produce – tomatoes are its fourth-largest commodity — and is among the world’s top developers of better-looking, better-tasting, disease-resistant and more nutritious varieties.

According to Harry Paris, a senior scientist at the government-sponsored Volcani Institute-Agricultural Research Organization, one of the first success stories in this area is the seedless, hardy Bet Alpha cucumber, introduced in 1936. Its descendants across the world are still going strong. The 1950s Ananas Yoqne‘am and Ha‘Ogen melons also set a global commercial standard.

“The two melons and the cucumber have had a huge international impact,” says Paris. “Their quality inspired successive improvements by Israeli breeder-geneticists. Today, an uncountable variety [of Israeli hybrid produce] has been bred by professionals.”

You’ll probably find more Israel-invented types of fruits and vegetables (as well as hothouse flowers) growing abroad than in the land of their development, simply because little Israel can’t produce on the same scale as countries such as the United States.

But blue-and-white innovation is in every bite no matter where it grows.

A dozen top Israeli-bred fruits and veggies:

  1. The Galia melon, released to the market in 1974 by breeders Zvi Karchi and Anneke Govers, became a multimillion-dollar hit internationally
  2. The Orangetti spaghetti squash, now the only spaghetti squash sold in Israel, was the first hybrid Israeli vegetable grown in the United States under its own name.
  3. Ben Dor Fruits & Nurseries’ nectarine-mango is heart-shaped with a smooth peel. The fruit took 10 years to perfect and went on the market in Israel, the UK and South Africa in June 2012.
  4. The pomelit grapefruit-pomelo (pummelo) hybrid is another Ben Dor innovation. Marketed overseas as Sweetie, this juicy fruit is sweeter and less acidic than a grapefruit, smaller than a pomelo and much easier to peel.
  5. Angello, the first seedless bell pepper in the world, won the Fruit Logistica Innovation Award in 2012. The development of the mini seedless red pepper began six years ago at the Israeli seed company Zeraim Gedera.
  6. The Black Galaxy tomato was introduced to international markets in early 2012 but had already won high acclaim in its native Israel. The dark salad staple was developed by Technological Seeds DM using a pigment derived from blueberries.
  7. Goldy zucchini squash was developed by the Volcani’s Harry Paris and released in 1983. “It’s still the best-looking yellow zucchini out there, and still selling 30 years later,” he says