When a packhouse of citrus lacks expertise in its field, a lot of produce can go to waste without there being a need for it. How could somebody who runs a packhouse not have the know-how? It was a challenging journey for former surgeon Said Eldeeb, who instead of saving lives is now saving a big amount of his citrus from the garbage bin.
Egytree is a relatively small packhouse of oranges in Elshikh Zayed City, but the passion with which its manager runs the floor is no lesser than the big ones. Said Eldeeb used to be a spine surgeon, but now runs the packhouse of Egytree. When his brother, who worked as an architect and in construction, decided to invest in agriculture, Eldeeb decided he would assist his brother when and where he could. In 2013, they visited Fruit Logistica in Berlin together to see what they should do.
Learning was slow, but Eldeeb was eager to learn the ropes of the industry. In 2016 Eldeeb’s brother built his own packing house for oranges. However, the lack of know-how resulted in 40 per cent of the harvest going to the waste-bins, which was economically unacceptable.
“It was during this time I decided I would take a extended break from being a surgeon to help my brother make this packing house a success. I would take breaks of three to four months at a time and as the years went by, I discovered this field to be very interesting to me,” Eldeeb explains. “If you look at being a surgeon and running a packhouse, a lot of my qualities are useful in both fields. For one, I am a very hard worker and I definitely don’t want to lose clients, let alone patients. Transparency is also one of my core values, meaning I can’t try to hide any problems we have. If I hide a problem, I won’t be able to solve it and prevent mistakes from happening in the future.”
Wasting 40 per cent of the incoming harvest was one of the most important things Eldeeb wanted to tackle. “Even though I have a natural organized mind, and there is some overlap in my knowledge when it comes to my medical education and things like residues on oranges, I could not fix the 40% waste on my own. So we hired an external quality assurance team, Partner in Sourcing (PinS). They pointed us in the right direction of what to do with oranges of lesser quality and how to be strict when it comes to grading something as a class I orange.” Eldeeb continues.
Now that Partner in Sourcing was in full control of the quality control, it required a shift in the mindset of the workers. According to Eldeeb, this wasn’t too hard to accomplish. “It required a shift in my own mindset as well, as we had been doing things differently for quite some time. However as a former surgeon I can’t accept any risks in our packhouse or operation. I can’t accept any mistakes and thus I can not compromise. This mentality made it easy for me to accept the feedback and changes PinS wanted to implement in this packhouse.
And it came with great result, as the fruit we sort out now has better quality and the number of waste has dropped from 40 to only 16 per cent, which is still subject to improvement. Nevertheless, this has naturally increased our revenue by quite a bit. More importantly, we have satisfied customers who know what they can expect when they order produce from us, so whatever Partner in Sourcing asks, I’m happy to do. We are committed to their work method, as it’s given us peace of mind, better fruits.” As for being a spine surgeon, Eldeeb has left this life behind and is happy to be thriving in a new kind of business.