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Sakkara on shipping oranges to China

First quality then volumes

Sakkara, originally a Jordanian group founded two generations ago, has expanded over the years, first stepping out to the Omani market, setting up storage and distribution facilities there, and “then to Egypt in 2002 with a very small packing station, from which we managed to grow,” explains Aziz Hyder.

The company’s export business is currently based in Egypt; it imports fruit from Oman and other parts of the world and then distributes it. According to Aziz, “the business expanded, and in 2012 we built a huge, brand new packing house with cold storage facilities and high end packing lines with Dutch technology.”

Aziz Hyder from Sakkara and Samer Saadedin

In addition to shipping 58 to 60,000 tonnes of oranges per season, rendering it one of Egypt’s largest distributors, Sakkara also works with grapes, pomegranates, potatoes or onions, and after introducing carrots three years ago it has also become one of the country’s biggest players. “We have distribution in Kuwait, Oman (by far the largest), Jordan, Saudi Arabia and we have started this year in Russia,” affirms Aziz.

As a group, Sakkara is also one of the largest importers of bananas into Egypt. Aziz says that “we also do apples, pears or plums from countries like South Africa, Chile, the U.S. or New Zealand. Additionally, oranges for juicing are shipped to Europe, to destinations like the Netherlands, the UK, Germany or Sweden.”

Given this huge expansion, China’s signing of an export protocol with Egypt two years ago was perceived by Sakkara as a chance to enter this market. Aziz explains that “this year, when we were in Hong Kong, we had a lot of enquiries from Chinese buyers, but we decided to understand the market before doing any business. Demand is there, but they are looking for really premium fruit.”

According to Aziz, Sakkara’s challenge, if it is to supply this top quality, is to reach the required volume. “We will thereby start with limited volumes, making sure that we first get the quality right, and then go from there. In Asia, we already do good volumes in India, Bangladesh and Malaysia, and we do really well in Dubai, with 400 containers of oranges per season.”