High demand for Egyptian citrus in Europe and Saudi Arabia
The pandemic still brings a lot of uncertainty to the Egyptian citrus exporters, as they’ve been working on the Navel and Baladi varieties already. They expect is to be a good season, with high demand from Saudi Arabia, as they’ve banned the oranges from Turkey. For the same reason, prices in Russia could also be unstable this season.
The citrus season has already started in Egypt, and according to Abdullah Tharwat, business development manager for Pyramids Agro, the first variety is a bit of a worry: “Navel orange, I prefer to describe it as the spoiled child, who will bring a lot of challenges to you in a short period of time. Navels are very sensitive to the weather conditions and the start of the citrus season is marked by the start of the Navel variety, as the taste of this variety is preferred in the Egyptian local market, Gulf countries and some Asian and European markets. The Baladi variety is mostly preferred for juices, this variety has also started during same period that Navel did. Finally, the Valencia variety, which has the biggest market share, is expected to start around the end of January.”
When asked about the expectations for the season, Tharwat states they don’t plan ahead as much as they normally would, as the situation can change at any point with the pandemic in mind. “Normal practice for our company would be to have a regular meeting to check out our plans and predictions for the season. However, the global market and the uncertainty that the second wave of Covid-19 brings with it are currently our main concerns. It’s changed customer behavior, and we want to make sure our plans will be flexible to the rapid changes that are possible in the markets. Regarding to Navel there will be a challenge for the Egyptians, as we export large volumes to Russia and Saudi Arabia, the latter of which has banned Turkish oranges. This will result in larger quantities being exported from Turkey to Russia, which in turn could lead to unstable prices in the Russian market.”
Pyramids mostly exports to Europe and Asia, but exciting news for the company will be its first entry in the Japanese market. “We’re seeing higher demands in Europe at the moment, it’s also expected demand will be high in the Far East and Saudi Arabia this season. However it’s also exciting that we will enter the Japanese market this year and hope to increase our market share in this territory. Hopefully volumes will increase every season from now on.”
Egypt has officially overtaken Spain when it comes to export volumes of citrus. Tharwat is pleased to see Egypt is doing so well, but isn’t concerned too much about exporting more than the competition: “Although Egypt has technically ‘beat’ Spain in terms of citrus export volumes, I don’t think it’s about beating the other with larger numbers. I think this game is about being the smartest and making good business decisions in the right markets. Customer behavior will always change, so the company providing the best quality both in produce and packaging, caring about sustainability and the team you work with and most importantly building great relations with your customers will come out ahead. Social responsibility and transparency are vital in this day and age, and for Egypt we will now have to prove that we can not only take the lead in volumes, but also in the power of the brand.”
“I’d like to share a few words for the companies that will be importing citrus this season. Focus on building business relationships and trust; which we think is what this business is all about. We prefer to visit our customers and our customers like to visit us during the season as well. It’s a personal business. I wish everyone a fantastic citrus season!” Tharwat concludes.