Egypt is the world's largest exporter of frozen strawberries, and producers are increasingly replacing their traditional strawberry varieties with varieties suitable for freezing, according to Khaled Radi of the Egyptian agri-fintech company Mozare3.
"Egyptian producers are now focusing on other varieties for the frozen market, which are more robust and produce a higher volume per acre. Since the frozen market has a much longer shelf life than the fresh market, producers have turned to the more profitable alternative, especially export-oriented ones," explains Khaled.
This choice is reflected in the transition from Florida varieties to other varieties, the most popular of which is Fortuna. Khaled adds: "Fortuna which has an excellent taste and a bright red skin and a low acidity. In comparison, The bright red skin of the Winter star darkens a bit after cold storage. We also grow the "Festival" variety, which has excellent flavor, long shelf life, and medium red skin. Other varieties such as Brilliance, Sensation, and Royal Royce are also grown on limited areas".
That said, Egypt also remains among the world's top 10 exporters of fresh strawberries, and farmers in this industry complain of a recent deterioration in the quality of the Florida plants. Khaled says: "Many fresh producers still grow Florida but due to the market trend favoring frozen products, these growers are currently underserved."
Khaled continues: "At Mozare3's, as a leading agri-fintech company in the MENA region, our role is to assist fresh strawberry producers as well by providing them with stronger plants, giving them the necessary agronomic support, and helping them to export the high-quality product they used to grow. We bridge the gap between small-holder farmers and food processors and exporters through various services such as contract farming, and agronomy support through a dedicated mobile app."
According to Khaled, "the average production of the variety 'Fortuna' has increased by 10% this season. The regions that produce them are mainly Ismailia, Beheira, and Qaluobia, and these are now at the peak of their production period. We're at the last stage of exporting fresh produce and the beginning of exporting frozen produce."
In terms of demand: "There is a strong demand in the local market and the Middle East. Regarding international markets, there are Brazil, Japan, Korea, and the United States," said Khaled. "As for prices there is a slight increase of 10-15% over last year, caused by the increase in input prices of about 60%."
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