Apartheid in the Fields: From Occupied Palestine to UK Supermarkets (2020 Update), Part 3.1 – Mehadrin

Mehadrin boasts that it is “Israel’s largest grower and exporter of citrus fruits and vegetables”. It is a major supplier of the Jaffa brand, which has become synonymous with Israel’s agricultural apartheid policies.
As well as being an exporter, it is a grower and owns 8,500 hectares of land.[1]

Mehadrin has annual sales of $400m, and exports 70% of its products abroad. It has offices in the UK, US, Sweden, Switzerland, Netherlands and France. [2] Mehadrin states that it is “a leading supplier of the world-renowned Jaffa brand”.[3] The Jaffa trademark is owned by the Citrus Division of the Israeli Plant Production and Marketing Board,[4] an
Israeli state institution.[5] The trademark is owned in the UK by AMT Fruit, which exclusively supplies Tesco. [6]

Settlement dates

Mehadrin is a major exporter of Medjoul and Deglet Nour dates. The company lists its date-growing regions as the Jordan Valley, the area around the shores of the Dead Sea, and the Arava.[7]

Two out of three of these areas refer to Israeli settlement agricultural areas inside the West Bank.

Global supermarket chains which import goods from these areas are complicit in Israel’s illegal colonisation of Palestinian land. In January 2020 we photographed Mehadrin dates in Asda, marketed as the supermarket’s own-brand ‘Extra Special’ dates.

Muslims worldwide traditionally break their fast during Ramadan with Medjoul dates. Mehadrin, along with other Israeli companies, profits from this. Some Mehadrin packaging is printed in Arabic script to appeal to Muslim consumers. There is a global campaign to raise awareness of this, and to encourage Muslims to boycott Israeli dates.

In 2018, Corporate Occupation researchers entered a 3,000 metre refrigeration unit in the settlement of Gilgal. A sign informed us that the refrigerator unit was used to store dates grown in the Jordan Valley, and that the dates are exported through Mehadrin.

The sign confirmed that Mehadrin’s fruits are “spread all over the Jordan Valley”. Interestingly, the Mehadrin global website doesn’t list the Gilgal refrigeration unit, nor any other premises in the territories illegally
occupied in 1967, in its map of warehouses, associated warehouses and orchards. [8]

However, the company admits that it sources from the
Jordan Valley and Dead Sea region in a PDF on the same website.[9] It seems that the company is trying to hide the fact that it sources goods grown by illegal colonists in the West Bank.

Stealing more and more land

As we travelled south down Route 90 between the settlements of Tomer and Gilgal, we photographed date trees, newly planted on an industrial scale. We were told by local Palestinians that land close to the settlement of Gilgal had recently been expropriated from its Palestinian owners and planted with date trees, farmed by the settlers. In Tomer settlement we photographed Mehadrin Medjoul dates being sold in an Israeli shop which has been set up to market products from the Jordan Valley settlements to passing motorists.

Date farming has transformed the landscape in much of the Jordan Valley, monopolising the landscape for Israel’s illegal colonies to export this high value product. Many of these dates are exported through Mehadrin. Over the last ten years Corporate Occupation has carried out countless interviews with Palestinian workers on Israeli settler date plantations. The story is always the same: Palestinian workers are denied contracts and the right to unionise, paid below the Israeli minimum wage (which Palestinians are entitled to when working in the settlements) and often work in dangerous conditions, with improper protective clothing when working with toxic pesticides. Child labour is rife.[10]

However, the company admits that it sources from the Jordan Valley and Dead Sea region in a PDF on the same website.[9] It seems that the company is trying to hide the fact that it sources goods grown by illegal colonists in the West Bank.

Stealing more and more land

As we travelled south down Route 90 between the settlements of Tomer and Gilgal, we photographed date trees, newly planted on an industrial scale. We were told by local Palestinians that land close to the settlement of Gilgal had recently been expropriated from its Palestinian owners and planted with date trees, farmed by the settlers. In Tomer settlement we photographed Mehadrin Medjoul dates being sold in an Israeli shop which has been set up to market products from the Jordan Valley settlements to passing motorists.

Date farming has transformed the landscape in much of the Jordan Valley, monopolising the landscape for Israel’s illegal colonies to export this high value product. Many of these dates are exported through Mehadrin. Over the last ten years Corporate Occupation has carried out countless interviews with Palestinian workers on Israeli settler date plantations. The story is always the same: Palestinian workers are denied contracts and the right to unionise, paid below the Israeli minimum wage (which Palestinians are entitled to when working in the settlements) and often work in dangerous conditions, with improper protective clothing when working with toxic pesticides. Child labour is rife.[10]

A sign at Gilgal settlement. Photo by Corporate Occupation, summer 2018.

Complicit in ethnic cleansing in the Naqab

 Mehadrin date boxes photographed inside Gilgal settlement by Corporate Occupation, summer 2018.
Mehadrin date boxes photographed inside Gilgal settlement by Corporate Occupation, summer 2018.


The majority of Mehadrin’s certified growers under the GlobalG.A.P. scheme are in the Naqab (Negev). Palestinian Bedouin communities in the Naqab are facing systematic racism and ethnic cleansing by the Israeli state. During 2018-19 the Israeli state destroyed the entire village of
Al-Araqib on dozens of occasions, and wiped out the community of Umm Al-Hiran.[11]

One of Mehadrin’s certified growers is Havat Shikmim,[12] owned by the family of deceased Israeli general and president, Ariel Sharon.[13]

Mehadrin’s certificates to supply Israeli fruit
to the UK and the EU

Mehadrin has been certified by the Institute of Quality and Control under the Global Good Agricultural Practices (GlobalG.A.P.) scheme to export the following fresh fruit from Israel to the UK and EU in 2020: avocados,[14] grapefruit,[15] kumquats,[16] lemons,[17] lychees,[18] mandarins,[19] minneolas,[20] oranges,[21], oroblanco,[22] persimmons (Sharon fruit) [23] and pomelos.[24]

The company boasts that it can supply avocados all year round, with the help of partnerships in Peru and Chile (see the Take Action box).[25]

Mehadrin supplies most UK supermarkets. A BDS campaigner photographed Mehadrin avocados in Sainsbury’s in April 2019.[26] We also saw more Mehadrin avocados, as well as Mehadrin grapefruit, in Sainsbury’s in January 2020. We found Mehadrin avocados on sale in Aldi in April 2019, Star Ruby grapefruit in Lidl in May 2019, red grapefruit in M&S in December 2019, Medjoul dates in Asda in January 2020, and Sunrise grapefruit in Tesco in February 2020.

Exports of Mehadrin goods to the US

US Company AMC Import imported red grapefruit from Mehadrin in Israel to the US in 2019.[27] AMC has an office in Israel.[28]

Brand names used by Mehadrin: Jaffa, Red Sea[29], Deglet Nour natural dates[30], Barhi Dates [31] (the packaging of these dates is primarily in Arabic), Orri [32], STM [33], Shoham. [34]

Contact Mehadrin: 3 Penta Court, Station Road, Borehamwood, WD6 1SL
mehadrin.co.il, Tel: +44 (0)203 114 3030 info@mtexuk.com facebook.com/mehadrin, www.jaffa.co.uk

A list of Mehadrin’s international addresses can be found at mehadrin.co.il/global-presence

Grapefruit supplied by Israeli company Mehadrin on sale in Lidl. Photo by Corporate Occupation May 2019

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