Mohamed Af Ragab, Ragab Farms

"The challenge for Egypt is not to become its own main competitor."

The grape harvest in Egypt has started around 10 days earlier than normal this year due to weather conditions. "We have had a warm spring with relatively consistent temperatures since bud break onwards leading an early 2016 season" stated Mohamed AF Ragab, Vice-Chairman of Ragab Farms.

Although always glad to be early, Egyptian growers and exporters were sceptical about Europe, its main market for early fruit, which has imported almost double last year's volume of white seedless grapes from India this season.

"Because we start immediately after India, the volume of Indian stocks in Europe at the end of the Indian campaign and its trading prices determine to a large extent market prices for Egyptian fruit. While retailers are usually eager to switch to fresh Egyptian grapes, Indian stocks do put pressure on prices,” Ragab explains. Luckily for Egypt, after being under pressure in weeks 17 and 18, the prices in the European market seem to be picking up as Indian stocks are being cleared, based in recent market reports.

A brighter picture awaits Egypt with regards to red seedless grapes where shortages in Chilean Crimson have created opportunities to Egyptian Flame seedless. "We are sensing higher demand than usual for Flame this season, possibly due to lower than normal volumes out of Chile " adds General Manager, Mohamed Mousa.

Packing has already started this week for early white seedless varieties such as Prime and Early Sweet in early areas and is expected to start next week in later regions. Red seedless should follow within a week or two depending on the region and its development of color.

Ragab concludes, "The challenge for Egypt is to be careful not to over supply the European market, becoming its own main competitor. Quality Egyptian table grapes also have markets in the Middle East and Asia, and I believe exporters should try to target various destinations to maintain good sales in different markets."

For more information:

Mohamed AF Ragab
Ragab Farms (Egypt)

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