The year 2017 proved to be one of the worst seasons for Egyptian grapes in a decade, as Indian grapes flooded the market while demand suffered.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian economy is still reeling from the effects of the country’s demonetisation process for the Egyptian pound, raising the costs of production.
However, the outlook for coming seasons looks more encouraging. With the new mutual import protocol signed with the Chinese authorities, this market is expected to become one of the main destinations for Egyptian grapes.
“Despite the strict phytosanitary requirements, China is a huge market that focuses on premium quality with appropriate payback,” said Ahmed El-Hodaiby of Egyptian exporter Trade Waves.
Also positive has been the EU’s decision to remove Egyptian grapes from its list of high-risk crops and lower inspection rates at EU ports to below 20 per cent.
“This will definitely have a positive impact on Egyptian exports and, of course, on costs and delivery times,” said El-Hodaiby.
As newly planted areas enter into production, El-Hodaiby expects export volumes at Trade Waves to increase by around 20 per cent.
“Trade Waves has been working on new types of grapes,” he said. “Our Prime variety is now in full production. We’re also going to see our first harvest of Starlight, although this variety will be produced in limited quantities. During the next season, we’re planning to work with a new dark red and a new black variety.”
These varieties are aimed at extending the Egyptian season and supplying types of grape that are better suited to distant markets.
“Starlight is a red grape that is earlier than Flame,” explained El-Hodaiby. “In addition to an extended season, Starlight also provides better characteristics and better sizes than Flame. It is a tougher grape, which makes it better suited for the longer transit times when exporting to distant markets.”