Husam El-Din Awad

Husam El-Din Awad

The Egyptian grape season is running about four to five days late on last year, due to unseasonable weather in April, but massive growth is still expected again this year.

“Unusually for April in Egypt, we had some cloudy conditions and cooler temperatures,” said Husam El-Din Awad of grower and exporter Fruitex. “So we are delayed on last year but we should start around May 27-28 with fruit from our vines grown under plastic.”

The season at Fruitex begins with Early Sweet before moving into Superior Seedless, which is the mainstay of production, and then Flame Seedless comes on stream around June 5.

“We are increasing exports rapidly at a rate of 40 per cent year on year,” said El-Din Awad. “We have started planting in the south of country as well as our main production in the north to help us achieve these targets. As a company we aim to be able to produce from May 1 until the end of July.”

Fruitex concentrates on the retail trade in the UK and is a dedicated supplier to the major multiples. “We are the only one in Egypt that is 100 per cent dedicated to the retailers in this way,” said El-Din Awad. “The market is growing for our grapes because I believe that Egypt’s growers have learnt to produce good quality fruit.

“There is big potential coming out of Egypt - we are EurepGAP and BRC certified and we have much better quality fruit than India, which we compete with in the early part of our season.”

The Egyptian window on the season is also advantageous to growers, as they are able to bridge the gap from May right through to July without buyers having to chop and change between sources to dovetail the end of the southern hemisphere season with the start of supplies from Spain. “We are the only country that can supply all three of these months, and we have been concentrating on that for the last four years,” said El-Din Awad.

Investment in coldstorage is having a very positive effect on the grape segment, as well as the natural advantages of climate, cost of labour and availability of land. “We think we can extend our offer to cater for the later season in September with different varieties,” said El-Din Awad.