By Annelle Sheline
CAIRO: Faragalla, one of the top three suppliers of packaged juice and dairy products in Egypt, announced the opening of a new liquid food factory at its facility in Borg El-Arab outside Alexandria.
TetraPak, a Swedish-based company servicing 170 countries globally, signed a contract with Faragalla to mark their partnership in the new factory’s food processing and packaging, continuing their 17-year relationship.
Mohamed Farag Amer, chairman and founder of Faragalla Group, expressed his satisfaction with the new factory, which will be the first fully automated factory of its kind in the Middle East.
Faragalla Group embodies the success of its entrepreneurial founder, who spoke with pride about the continued strength of the Egyptian market, saying, “This is our country, we are all patriots. Faragalla represents this pride.”
The food market in Egypt was one of the sectors least affected by the uncertainties of the revolution last year, allowing Faragalla to open four new plants in 2011. The new factory will provide 500 new jobs, and is expected to be operational within the year.
Faragalla holds a 28 percent share of Egypt’s juice and milk market with brand names that include Faragello, Faragello Gold, Yahoo and Sabaho. It was the first company in the region to receive ISO certification, while Farag Amer was named African Industrialist of the Year in 1995 and 1996.
Faragalla also partners with international brands Del Monte, Danone and McDonald’s to produce products for the Egyptian market.
Nils Bjorkman, Swiss-based executive vice president of Tetra Pak, described his company’s mission as supplying consumers with “good, healthy food in good, secure packaging.”
Bjorkman said Tetra Pak provides packaging for many of the juice and dairy products seen in the average Egyptian supermarket.
He addressed questions about the sustainability and disposability of Tetra Pak’s packaging materials, pointing out that 20 percent of Tetra Pak’s packages in Egypt are recycled, a remarkably large ratio for a developing country, adding that the company intends to raise the rate to 35 percent recycled by 2020.
Waste management in Cairo represents a significant concern, given periodic municipal failures to remove and dispose of waste, famously leading citizens in some neighborhoods to take matters into their own hands to prevent garbage from piling up.
The controversial killing of Egyptian pigs in 2009, historically an important component of Cairo’s garbage disposal, raised fears that the problem would become even larger.
Asked to comment on his company’s ecological policies, Anders Lindergren, managing director of Tetra Pak for Egypt, pointed out that Tetra Pak’s products contain 70 percent paper, which he described as a sustainable resource, as opposed to the aluminum foil and plastic that makes up the rest of the package.
Regarding the possibility of creating a more eco-friendly package, such as using biodegradable material, Lindgren expressed doubt: “For packages with long shelf life, biodegradable packaging is currently not really feasible.”
Despite the universal fact that additional packaging produces additional garbage, Tetra Pak vice president Bjorkman emphasized the importance of providing safe food for Egyptians.
He told Daily News Egypt, “I am not sure what the percentage is in Egypt, but I know that in India approximately 40 percent of all food produced is wasted because it is preserved improperly or consumed too late.”
Asked to comment on rising food prices in Egypt, an issue that is only exacerbated by the higher price of packaged foods, Bjorkman offered assurances that well-packaged food provides benefits in the long run, offering safer and higher quality food than unpackaged.
Although packaging represents 75 percent of their business, Tetra Pak services include sterilization and homogenization of milk and juice. Although much of the milk and juice consumed in Egypt remains unprocessed and unpackaged, Tetra Pak and Faragalla expect to change that in the coming years.