“In Egypt, we’ve been monitoring our residue levels for over 20 years to comply with European standards. So there haven’t been any issues in this regard. What could have happened is that has been maybe one exporter with one problem with one container. Maybe he has made a mistake or maybe his inspections weren’t thorough enough. But this was most probably a one-off incident. This is not some systematic problem of the Egyptian fruit sector, as we haven’t had these issues in over ten years.”
Mohamed is very sceptical of this source. “I think that they maybe has had one bad experience with Egyptian grapes and are now criticising the whole Egyptian industry. This year, Egyptian Flame seedless grapes were trading very well, with prices ranging from €13 to €16 euros per carton. Furthermore, importers and retailers inspect the fruit and conduct residue analysis test. Should there be a general inconsistency, mass mailings are sent to the whole sector and this hasn’t happened at all.”
According to Ahmed, the grape season in Egypt has been quite early. It started around the 10th of May and finished with seedless varieties in the midst of June. His company started with the newly introduced prime variety, followed by Flame and Sugraone varieties. Then, switched over to Red Globe which happened a month earlier than usual.
As for the market, prices have generally remained flat. Usually the grape market starts out with higher prices in the beginning of the season that lower as more volumes become available. However, due to the overlap of the Indian season, this didn’t happen. “People were expecting high volumes, but these were actually lower with a diminished production of around 35%,” explains Ahmed.
He thinks that the European market will remain stable due to increasing volumes from Spain, while the supply from Egypt isn’t that large. This means that there will be no oversupply and the market and demand will remain present. Ahmed’s company usually still has some orders at the end of the season, which can’t be addressed due to lack of volumes.
Egypt is set to trade with Indonesia. While a trade agreement with China is still in the pipeline, from July onwards Egypt will be able to export grapes to the Indonesian market. According to Ahmed, the main challenge doesn’t lie in the competition, but rather the strict requirements for Indonesian import combined with the extended freight transit time. “We’ll be able to meet the necessary requirements, though it will lead to higher prices. However, as there is no competition to speak of, this won’t be a major problem.”
For more information:
Mohamed AF Ragab
Ragab Farms (Egypt)
Trade Waves Co.(Egypt)
Tel : +202 3304 8165
Fax: +202 3345 3872
Mobile : +20 100 1932 518