Egyptian authorities have finalised a protocol with China to allow approved Egyptian grape exporters to send direct to the Chinese market.
Egypt’s Agricultural Export Council (AEC) contacted exporters, laying out the need for companies to register their interest to export, provide the size of their production area and show a copy of their GlobalGAP certificate.
“This is great news,” said Hassan Zaher of exporter Ghabbour Farms. “Egypt will be a tremendous player on the Chinese market. Our window is from May to late September, timed between the Chilean and US campaigns, so we will organise some programmes to start in May 2017.”
According to Zaher, the company has already been planting grapes with the Chinese market in mind. “We have varieties including Sugraone, Red Globe, Crimson Seedless and Autumn Royal, which are good for the market,” he said. “There are also different packaging requirements that we need to meet.”
A spokesperson for exporter Pico said the protocol would add a new dimension to Egypt’s presence at the Asia Fruit Logistica exhibition in Hong Kong at the start of September.
“The talks will begin now,” she said. “Companies will need to understand the different requirements in terms of quality and packaging before they start sending. We know the quality requirements are very high, with strict demands for uniform colouration and large sizes. It will be a challenge. The quarantine requirements are also still unclear. And what if there is a rejection? Will it still go to Hong Kong or will it be dumped?”
It will also be necessary to cater to the specific needs of different Chinese provinces, the spokesperson said. “In China, consumers in each province have their own likes and dislikes when it comes to fresh produce,” she explained. “Presentation is generally very important throughout the country. In fact, having the right colour is often more important than having the right Brix.”
According to exporters, the protocol appears to be comparable to that signed last year to grant access to China for Egyptian oranges.