Egyptian strawberry exporters have been given the all-clear by the US department of agriculture to send their fruit to the US.
The announcement from US ambassador Anne W Patterson is likely to further stimulate production in Egypt, which already stands as the fourth largest strawberry producer in the world.
“We are committed to continuing to work with the Egyptian authorities to increase market opportunities for Egyptian exports,” said Patterson. “Increasing trade between our two countries is a key component of boosting employment and economic growth in Egypt.”
Egypt's strawberry production is valued at almost US$330m a year, with most exports traditionally heading to the EU and Gulf markets, but the opening of this new market is welcome news for exporters.
Heike Hagenguth, business development manager for Cairo-based Pico Modern Agriculture, said the only shame was the timing of the decision.
"Unfortunately, this has happened towards the end of the current season," she told Eurofruit, "but it is a great chance for next season, and we have to start preparing for it now. We are already in contact with an importer on the East Coast that wants to receive our strawberries, so we are in discussions about a supply programme to the supermarkets for next season."
According to Hagenguth, logistics will need to be carefully planned, since direct flights from Egypt to the US include only a few destinations.
"Transshipments will be needed, depending on the destination," she said, "and airfreight is more expensive than to Europe, so the whole exercise must remain feasible. Packing materials are also different in terms of punnet and carton sizes, so all this needs to be planned for the coming season."