The Egyptian strawberry season is currently in full swing. After the next two months of exporting fresh strawberries, the shift will be made to frozen strawberries, which are also being exported right now. According to one exporter, the strawberry production in Egypt is growing significantly, and as other producing countries are experiencing issues, it means the Egyptians can step in as an alternative.
For the next two months, the fresh strawberries from Egypt will still be exported. According to Amr Kadah, CEO and agronomist of Fruit Kingdom for Export, demand for the strawberries is very high at the moment. “The Egyptian fresh strawberry season started normally in November and it’ll last until February. As for the frozen strawberry season, it starts in January and ends in May. Bad climatic factors in some strawberry-producing countries, such as heavy rains and cold, have had a very bad effect on yields in those countries, so Egyptian strawberries are in high demand this season. Even in countries where for the last 15 years, as long as I've been engaged in this business, they have never asked for it from us, such as Southeast Europe.
"The wave of great cold has hit Europe again, in Egypt today the daily temperature is above 20 degrees Celsius. Store shelves in Europe and other countries are crying out for our strawberries. In such circumstances, we expect an increase in Egyptian strawberry exports compared to last year by about 20% for fresh strawberry and 30% for frozen strawberries.”
The weather issues in several countries in combination with the challenges that the pandemic brings cause a unique situation for the strawberry exporters in Egypt. Kadah explains that disruptions in the logistic chain can make it difficult to get all the produce to their destination on time: “The main challenge is to deliver strawberries to all customers who want them on time, and the demand for Egyptian strawberries has increased dramatically due to the climatic reasons I cited and the desire of the market, especially the European one, to consume significantly more strawberries than last year. The trend of demand for soft fruits is extremely high, in Western Europe currently several times, and the supply is smaller globally, except for the Egyptian.
"Most Egyptian producers did not increase production due to the pandemic and fear of selling strawberries. We at Fruit Kingdom have opted for an increase, although we have so far controlled a large area under strawberry plantations, one of the largest in Egypt. The corona virus pandemic has created extreme disruptions in the transportation of goods, halved transportation capacity, especially by air and trucks, and fresh strawberries are mostly transported by plane. We put a lot more effort than ever into finding the best shipping method for our customers and that is definitely the main challenge.”
Although Kadah understands that strawberry producing countries might only be interested in the strawberries for just this season, he does feel there are lots of opportunities to gain the trust of the countries that are normally supplied by the countries having issues right now: “The most important markets for our strawberries are still Europe, Russia, Arab Gulf Countries and east Asia for both fresh and frozen strawberries. Although the markets haven’t changed, changes have taken place within these markets, for example, European countries that have never imported strawberries before are now the first to ask us to do so. I’m aware that this demand is related to our good prices and the extremely bad climatic factors that these countries had, and still have, and that the situation could change next year. However, these countries normally have their regular customers themselves, who can now try Egyptian strawberries for the first time. Our strawberry is grown more naturally than in other countries, and its unique taste and exceptional nutritional properties customers will not forget. I certainly count on that factor as well.”
The Egyptian cultivation of strawberries has been developing steadily, increasing the yield of the produce. “As indicated the Egyptian Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation that Egypt exports 20,000 tons of fresh strawberries and 4 million strawberry seedlings per year. The main strawberry varieties in Egypt are Festival, Fortuna, Florida and a new variety called Sweet Sensation. What we are constantly doing is introducing new varieties of strawberries and new agrotechnical achievements in strawberry production. This season, during her duration, it will result in higher yields by about 30% compared to last year and better fruit quality,” Kadah explains.
"This year, we will definitely sell more strawberries, judging by the reactions from the market so far, and we will carefully analyze the results of the season in order to prepare well for next season. I’m not the least bit worried about the placement of our strawberries.”
“What all Egyptian producers and exporters want is to climb as much as possible onto the world stage, with the export of fresh strawberries of as a recognizable brand, with the lowest possible share of plastic and the highest possible share of biodegradable materials in packaging. Egypt has all the conditions to become a staple in the agricultural production of fruit and vegetables Strawberries take the lead here. Without false modesty, and I am by nature a modest man, as an agronomist I am convinced that we deserve it according to all the parameters of the profession.” Kadah concludes.