Egyptian blueberry growers are cautiously increasing their acreage while keeping an eye on the situation in Morocco. If the industry hardships on the Moroccan side persist, as was the case last year, it will be a great opportunity for Egypt.
Companies like Fayed Agricultural Development Company (FATA) are rising to the challenge. Karim Fayed, operations manager of FATA, says, "There's certainly a gap in the market that we can seize, and we're increasing our acreage progressively. Usually, acreage is increasing in Egypt, but growers are controlling volume growth for fear of falling prices. Blueberries are a premium product in Egypt, and most of our harvest is sold in the local market. A substantial increase in the supply is a big financial risk."
Karim continues, "Last year when Moroccan production was hit hard by weather conditions, Egyptian growers found themselves with a very lucrative opportunity to export to foreign markets for high prices. This will undoubtedly translate into more Egyptian volumes next season. We'll see how it turns out. If the same issues persist in Morocco, we'll have foreign markets to supply. In the opposite case, the local Egyptian market will be flooded."
In the long term, Egyptian growers aim to develop a competitive blueberry industry. Karim says, "Trials are underway to determine which varieties will give a consistent supply of good quality. Some are already very promising. We're making sure we adopt varieties resistant to excessive heat."
Karim concludes, "It's true that Moroccan producers have the edge of many years' experience and steady production. But if the climatic conditions we've seen in recent years persist, this means a shift in competition in the region in favor of Egypt."