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Israeli oranges 'on sale in Iran'
24 April 2009
Fears that an Iranian ban on imports from its arch foe Israel was flouted by the sale of Jaffa oranges have sparked an inquiry in Tehran, reports say.
City authorities asked the judiciary to take action after the Israeli fruit was allegedly imported in boxes marked as Chinese, local media report.
The fruit was imported via Dubai and put on sale at markets and in shops in and around Tehran, one report says.
Photos show fruit marked "Israel"
A news agency showed pictures of boxes containing fruit bearing a Jaffa label.
In its report on the alleged distribution of the oranges, the Ilna news agency said fruit still in storage would not be sold.
Chinese boxes allegedly containing Israeli oranges found in Iran (photo from the Iranian news agency Mehr)
Israeli Jaffa Oranges marked "Jaffa Sweetie Israel PO"
Photos released by the Mehr news agency show oranges clearly marked "Jaffa Sweetie Israel PO".
Photos show Israeli fruit in Chinese fruit boxes
An Iranian customs official later told a third news agency, Isna, he found the reports impossible to believe but added that if any Israeli oranges had been imported, it could only have happened through unofficial channels.
"In addition to the inspections, importers are informed about the laws and they will never take such risks for importing just a few tonnes of goods," said Mohammad Reza Naderi, deputy head of Iranian Customs.
"Even if it is said that the oranges were imported to the country from Israel, the import was not done through official channels."
Iran and the Israeli 'citrus fruit conspiracy'
Amiram Cohen and Eli Ashkenazi, Haaretz
27 April 2009
When Iranian shoppers discovered recently that they were apparently being offered Israeli pomelos for sale, a storm of protest swept the Islamic Republic.
The media showcased the contraband citrus, the warehouses where it was stored were shut down, and the authorities pledged to "bring to justice" the miscreants involved. A senior Iranian politician even accused the opposition of a "citrus fruit conspiracy."
The plot thickened when the BBC reported that the fruit - pomelit (a cross between a grapefruit and pomelo) sold abroad as "sweeties" - which were marketed under the brand-name Jaffa, had reached Iran via China.
Chinese exporters may have re-exported to Iran pomelits exported from Israel to Japan and South Korea with a fake Jaffa label.
Israel has sold the rights to the brand-name Jaffa to producers and marketers of citrus fruit in various countries, and it no longer necessarily indicates the fruit was grown in Israel. If the fruit is raised in Israel, marketers licensed to use the brand-name must remove the country name from the label.
Iranians have not seen Israeli fruit since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, when trade was cut off between the two countries. Just two years earlier, the Iranians were enjoying no less than 40 tons a year of Zionist oranges.
Hai Binyamini, the secretary of Israel's Citrus Growers Association, said he didn't understand the point of falsifying a brand name to market the fruit in a country where the brand is unknown or unwanted.
Citrus growers in Israel currently raise some 600 tons of fruit, some 40 percent of which is exported as fresh fruit. In 2008, Israel's citrus exports totaled approximately $100 million, mainly to Western Europe, a 30-percent increase over the past three years.
England is the No. 1 market for Israeli citrus, followed by Scandinavia, Russia, Germany and France, Japan, South Korea and China. Israeli fruit also reaches the Gulf states through a third party without the origin marked.
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