A sign in the fields of the illegal settlement of Kalia in the Israeli occupied Jordan Valley for ‘organic goods’ grown by Hayun Yitzhak – taken by Corporate Watch researchers on 26/01/2013
Corporate Watch visited the fields of the illegal settlement of Kalia, a settlement kibbutz on the coast of the Dead Sea, on the 26th January 2013.
Carmel-Agrexco was Israel’s main agricultural export company, exporting 70% of all fresh produce from Israel’s illegal settlements, until September 2011 when it was formally liquidated, partly due to pressure from the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Formerly state owned, Agrexco has been privately purchased by Bickel Flowers and, according to Who Profits?, has regained a significant proportion of its former market.
A packing house bearing Agrexco signage, which was packaging goods for Agrexco’s ECOFRESH brand in 2010, was operating nearby but was packaging goods for export by other agricultural companies instead of Agrexco, indicating that Agrexco has lost some of its market in this region.
Crops were labelled as being grown for export by Carmel Agrexco. One sign read “Organic FC [Field Crops], Hayun Yitzhak”. Continue reading
Herbs inside the Halpert Moshe Packing House
Despite increased publicity regarding the labelling of Israeli settlement produce, and the recent DEFRA guidance on the matter which states that produce from the settlements should be labelled as such, it only took us a few minutes inside the illegal Jordan Valley settlement of Mehola to find herbs bound for a British company being mislabelled. Herbs bearing the logo of Fresh Direct, who have their head office in Oxfordshire, were spotted inside the Halpert Moshe ‘fresh herbs’ packing house which operates under the Carmel Agrexco banner. At this location herbs being prepared came with a joint Fresh Direct/Carmel Agrexco label which clearly states the product as being “Produce of Israel”, despite being packaged in an organic farm on an illegal settlement in the Israeli occupied West Bank. The label we collected was for 70 grams of sage with the text written in English, indicating that the contents were intended for export to Britain. There were also herbs labelled in German (without the Fresh Direct logo) inside the packing house. Continue reading
Yair Bni Menashe Carmel Packing House
The settlement of Mehola is situated in the Northern Jordan Valley. It is comprised of a gated, fenced residential settlement and an agricultural area. The agricultural area is close to the Palestinian village of Ein al Beida and Palestinian workers, including child workers, work in the fields and packing houses. Workers are paid from 60-80 shekels per day, half the Israeli minimum wage, and have no contracts or health insurance. There have been documented incidents of employers in Mehola falsifying wage slips in order to appear to be paying proper wages. Continue reading