Weather conditions this year were conducive to an early season for Egypt’s white grapes, but gaps in availability are a concern for exporters

Egypt has experienced an unusual grape season so far this year, according to Amr El Beltagy, managing director of Treetops Trading.

“A large proportion of the country’s white grapes were harvested especially early due to favourable weather conditions,” he said. “Many growers were already aiming for early production, since last year’s early grapes were the most profitable. Thanks to the good conditions, this season started early, but is also expected to finish early.”

Egyptian grapes

At the same time, exporters face transportation issues. “There are serious challenges in trucking from the packhouses to Egypt’s ports,” said El Beltagy. “There is a shortage of trucks, and hence some containers risk missing their vessel. This has been a real headache this season.”

One positive has been the high quality of the grapes this season. The climate has been especially favourable to red grapes, according to El Beltagy, helping colouration, which he said was crucial.

“It also helped with the early start of the season,” he said. “On a technical side, this is generally positive, but on the marketing side, the Egyptian season might end earlier than expected.”

Overall volumes will be a bit lower, he said, especially for early to mid-season white grapes, such as Sugraone, creating a gap in production between early and mid to late white grapes.

“In addition to our main varieties, Early sweet, Sugraone, Flame and Starlight, Treetops has recently acquired the license to plant IFG/SNFL (Bloom Fresh) varieties,” revealed El Beltagy. “We have already planted Sweet Celebration as the first in our three year plan to add new special varieties to our portfolio that are more grower friendly and market trendy, and extend our season since they are mostly mid to late varieties. More varieties like Ivory and Sweet Globe will be planted soon as well.”

Treetops Trading’s main markets are the UK, Germany and the Netherlands, with the company sending mostly to the supermarkets, as well as reputable grape importers. “In the coming three years, we will be focused on enhancing our portfolio of varieties and increasing the volumes we send to our current markets and customers,” said El Beltagy.

For exporters like Treetops, the main challenge at the moment is rising costs. “Costs are crazy high,” confirmed El Beltagy. “Since Covid, and now with the wars going on and local economic challenges, every single item has increased in cost. Just when exporters thought the recent strength of the US dollar would help cover these increases, the dollar started to go down against the Egyptian pound.

“What every exporter needs now is stability in the currency to be able to set exact costs and exact profits. We are optimistic that Egypt is finally on the right path and that the value of the Egyptian pound will start to stabilise against the US dollar and other foreign currencies.”