The spring onions in Egypt have been facing a rough time ever since the coronavirus started spreading around the globe. The end of last season made one exporter lose money on the shipments, and as long as restaurants remain closed, a good chunk of the potential customer-base will be unable to order their usual shipments.
The year 2020 started off really well for the Egyptian spring onions. According to Mai Yassin, export manager for Stars of Export, demand was really good when the season started. Near the end of the season though, problems started to arise: “Over the year 2020, it was a good season for the Egyptian spring onions overall. Prices were very good as well as the market conditions. The end of the season was a bit different, as corona had started to spread more widely by that time. This meant that the last containers of the season had some difficulties, causing us to lose money on these specific shipments.”
The pandemic has led to the closure of restaurants and hotels have fewer visitors than they normally would. It also resulted in less production capabilities for Stars of Export as a company, Yassin explains. “For the upcoming season we plan to cover our bases, as the market is slow and calm at the moment. Spring onions are mostly used in the catering sector, so for restaurants and hotels, more so than consumers using it at home. So now that a lot of restaurants are closed in Europe, we lose a percentage, and not a small percentage, of our customers. That’s why we already see the orders for the upcoming season are lower than last year. But this also is true for our production and processing capabilities. Everything has slowed down a bit, in order to keep the coronavirus at bay. This is done to ensure the safety of our workers.”
“In the warehouse everyone is to use a mask, and people have to have a safe distance between them. This has also resulted in lower working hours. It will mean a lower production of spring onions than we had last year. However, despite it being lower, it’s also simply the maximum we are able to do at this time, with these safety measures in mind.” Yassin states.
As there still isn’t a cure or vaccine for Covid-19, Yassin says they’ll have to tackle the next season quite differently from usual. “We’re still focused on the European market, and we had a new client in the United Kingdom specifically. However as the coronavirus came to pass, it was hard to fulfil their needs, as our production started to slow down. Therefore the focus for next season will not be to enter new agreements, but to ensure the supply that we have for our clients. Looking forward, it’s hard to have any expectations for the new season. Like the rest of the world we’re simply waiting for a cure or vaccine for the coronavirus, so that our lives can return back to normal. Until that time comes, we’ll have to face the season as it is.” she concludes.