Egyptian fruit and vegetable products are increasingly more popular in the German and Western European specialised trade. But apart from citrus, pulses and sweet potatoes, tons of fruit exotics are produced in the North African country as well. The further development and promotion of this product category is the long-term goal of Dortmund-based fruit wholesaler Sarwat Radwan, who changed the name of his existing fresh produce business to AKL Exofresh LLC last year.
The native Egyptian has been serving wholesale customers goods from his homeland for 15 years. "When we changed our name, we not only expanded our clientele, but also our product range significantly. We now also purchase goods in Jordan, Morocco and Spain. In the last few years, I have often been to the two trade fairs in Berlin and Madrid, meeting many experts there. In the course of this, I was able to expand my supplier and distribution network accordingly."
Spring onions and mini courgettes from Egypt. The new company name ExoFresh already points to the focus on exotics.
Structural change is imminent
According to Radwan, the Egyptian agricultural economy has developed abruptly in recent years. "Mini courgettes and cucumbers were virtually unknown in this country until a few years ago, and consumption has now grown explosively. Unfortunately, this also leads to many getting into this cultivation because they believe they can easily make money in importing and exporting. This in turn has led to an oversupply in this category of goods," he says.
However, the experienced importer firmly believes that a structural change will take place in the fruit trade in the wake of the Covid crisis, because one now has to reckon with more difficult conditions. "Fixed programmes cannot be planned at all: you can simply never estimate what will happen next week. This, of course, makes things difficult for us importers."
Further export potential exists
In the longer term, however, Radwan is optimistic about the future because Egypt is increasingly establishing itself as an interesting alternative for southern European countries. "In the case of spring onions, Egypt has long since overtaken Italy. Valencia juice oranges are also gaining in importance, but we are having a hard time with that as long as Spain is still on the market."
Egyptian vegetables already have a high status in the German trade.
According to Radwan, Egypt's export potential is far from exhausted. In addition to the usual market products, the country also produces tons of exotics every year. "In the case of mangoes alone, more than 100 different varieties grow and thrive on Egyptian soil, and dates and chirimoyas are also slowly being exported. The export volume is still incomparable to the standard articles: Many traders and importers are holding back from importing because they can't sell in bulk. In my opinion, you need a lot of patience to place new articles. I have now set myself the goal of bringing Egyptian exotics to the fore."
Artichokes and mangoes from Egypt.
Wholesale markets and food retail customers
In the area of wholesale markets, Radwan is already well networked: "We maintain a direct line to almost all well-known wholesale markets, whether Munich, Berlin, Dortmund, Gelsenkirchen or the Paris wholesale market Rungis. The next step would be to expand our food retailing activities."