By Abdel Qader Ramadan
The Arab Beverage Association, a subsidiary group of the Arab League, will hold the Arab Beverages Conference and Exhibition for the first time in Egypt on 2 and 3 September. More than 50 Egyptian and Arab companies will participate.
Mondher Al-Harthi, chairman of the association, said in a press conference on Saturday that the beverage and juice industry is growing significantly in the Arab world and that demand is increasing for all types of beverages.
Al-Harthi stressed the need to remove obstacles to enhance inter-Arab trade and emphasised the importance of developing legislation and improving the business climate, as well as unifying standards and criteria among Arab nations to facilitate transportation, trade and product exchange.
Mohammed Farag, president of Faragallah Group, said that his company is interested in exports, which he said reached $60m last year and were directed mainly at America and Africa.
The Egyptian market is an emerging one, he said, as annual juice consumption amounts to 520m litres. Average per capita juice consumption does not exceed 9 litres annually, and this rate is lower than that of Western countries, according to Farag.
Companies have an opportunity to expand the local market by increasing awareness of the importance of juices and establishing juice consumption as a drinking habit among citizens, he added.
Farag further said that his company annually produces billions of units of juice in various sizes, prices, and forms to suit different age groups and the requirements of diverse families, individuals and income brackets.
Ashraf Al-Sayed, board member of the Food Export Council, is currently working on a strategy to increase the sector’s exports to EGP 40bn by the year 2020, compared to the current EGP 20bn.
He said that Egyptian juice exports and beverages totalled $179m last year, $95m of which were accounted for by juices, $12m non-alcoholic beverages, $25m dairy products and $47m hot drinks.
According to Al-Sayed, the most important juice importing countries last year included Libya at $35m, Jordan at $11.3m, Unites States at $10.7m, Palestine at $9m, Saudi Arabia at $8m, Syria at $7.2m, Sudan at $6.8m, and Yemen at $6.6m.
He expressed his fear that exports to some of these markets would be impacted by security and political circumstances, especially in Syria and Libya.