The Egyptian sweet potato season has started and this year will bring even more quantities than last season. According to one exporter, the Egyptians are developing their skills rapidly, in both cultivation and marketing. Prices are expected to be slightly higher, as the challenges of the pandemic still exist.
Amr Kadah, CEO of Egyptian produce exporter Fruit Kingdom, says it’s been a solid season for Egyptian sweet potatoes so far. And production is still increasing: “Egypt significantly increases the production and sales of sweet potatoes every year and sells most of them in Europe. Sales are going great at this time as an increasing number of customers are discovering the healthy sweet potatoes. Europe’s own production and Chinese competition are no real threat to us.
"From year to year, Egypt makes great strides as a major player in the export of vegetables and fruits, and I don’t expect that to stop. The Egyptians are more flexible in pricing, we have great quality produce and thanks to help from experts from Europe who have chosen to work for an Egyptian company rather than a German one, our marketing is now top notch as well. We’ve welcomed these experts with open arms and want them to feel comfortable and at home in Egypt.” Kadah says.
The increased production of sweet potatoes in Egypt can be explained by two routes, Kadah explains: “To get a production increase of 20, 30 or more percent, you can do in two ways. By either increasing the size of the land planted with that crop or by planting improved varieties of sweet potatoes with better yields. My company personally opted for the second model, but the manufacturers of course use both models to increase production. Egypt has certainly increased the area under sweet potatoes by 20%, but you must know that our scientists are working rapidly on domestic, improved varieties with higher yields. Today, it is extremely important to keep up with the agricultural profession.”
Although the season is expected to be good, Kadah is currently dealing with a lot of challenges. To him it’s important that the Egyptian economy keeps thriving at the rate is currently is. “The sweet potato season started great and will surely stay that way until the end. The whole world is in recession, and while the corona virus pandemic is still among us, we are increasing the production and sales of sweet potatoes by 20-30% compared to last year, despite all the difficulties we encounter daily.
"These include increased controls, closed countries, logistical difficulties and greatly increased measures against the pandemic in Egypt. We are really trying, including my company, to stay cool-headed at these high temperatures and in a precarious situation with the virus in the fall. We cannot and do not want to take the economy out of the fifth gear, by which it is currently driving. In Egypt, the agricultural production of fruits and vegetables is a symbol and a new trademark. I am also working fast on new varieties of sweet potatoes, in order to increase my assortment in depth. It will certainly be worth the effort and new, even better results.”
Due to the challenges the pandemic brings, Kadah expects prices to be higher than last year. “Demand is excellent this year in the first month since the beginning of the harvest. Prices will be slightly higher on average than last season due to the pandemic. Europe is still ordering the most. We expect lower prices for Chinese sweet potatoes, but that doesn’t bother us. Buyers have recognized the quality of Egyptian sweet potatoes and are willing to pay for it.”
“My goal for 2020 is to become a supplier in several renowned European and Russian chains. The goal of my company’s sales policy is to work with retailers who sell goods directly to customers so that I can achieve through direct relationships with them the best possible customer education and develop an even greater habit of consuming this healthy food. This is the only way I can do well in the long run. It is important that there is a desire to sell, and for me there is always a desire of the retail chain and its customers to buy and consume these goods.” Kadah concludes.