The Horticultural Export Improvement Association (HEIA) aims to penetrate more markets in East Asia starting this season, following the success of its experience in China over the past two seasons.
Mohsen El-Beltagy, president of the HEIA, said that the East Asia region is promising and holds great opportunity for Egyptian crops if Egypt can meet its needs according to its standard specifications and take into consideration consumer tastes.
El-Beltagy explained that the group will focus, starting this current season, on the markets of the Philippines and Singapore, as well as study the entry into the Taiwanese, North, and South Korean markets.
He pointed out that the HEIA and the Agriculture Export Council, with the Ministry of Agriculture, have been able to open more markets, during the past three seasons, to Egyptian crops.
China was the most important market, which opened its markets to citrus in the season before last, followed by grapes last season, and dates starting next season.
He pointed out that the export of agricultural crops takes several years to achieve real increases.
“Yet, China received 5,000 tonnes of citrus in the first season, then 120,000 tonnes after two seasons only and it was the same for grapes,” he explained.
At the same time, El-Beltagy said, the presence of agricultural crops in African markets is still weak and does not represent the real capacity of Egyptian products, calling for the need to intensify presence there in the coming years.
El-Beltagy said that the HEIA aims to hold meetings with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa soon to identify the needs of the African market, followed by meetings with the offices of trade representation there to organise promotional missions for Egyptian crops.
He pointed out that the association has already begun contacts with South Africa and Kenya, and has sent many promotional missions there. He highlighted mangoes as a possible key crop in Africa.
At the level of members of the association, El-Beltagy said that the list of members is increasing annually by an average of 50 new companies, reaching some 700 companies at the end of 2017.
He added that the volume of exports exported through the companies registered in the association represents about 90% of the total Egyptian exports every season, with plans to add more companies by offering more services.
Exports of agricultural crops increased during the last season by 11% to reach 4.813m tonnes, up from 4.343m tonnes the year before that, supported by expansion in markets and the new export scheme.
El-Beltagy said that small companies acquire a large share of export proceeds every season, although they export small quantities, as there are more small companies compared to bigger ones.
The HEIA offers a series of lectures to introduce export markets and means of entering them and getting to know their clients. These lectures are attended by specialists from leading countries in the field.
In addition, El-Beltagy said that the HEIA also organises an event for each crop to host foreign experts that explain healthy production procedures for farmers.
He added that the HEIA pays particular attention to small and medium enterprises to attract more economic value in the sector, which drives the market towards new stages of development.
He noted that Fruit Logistica has been held for over 15 years, being one of the largest specialised exhibitions around the world.
He highlighted the growing number of Egyptian participants in the exhibition, starting at five companies and reaching 98 in the current session.
He explained that the gradual increase in the number of companies shows the importance of the exhibition for Egyptian agricultural exports, which contributes to introducing local companies to new clients.
It also allows exporters to learn about the latest technologies in agriculture, and how to use them, which allows raising the quality of products, increasing their ability to enter the target markets, he added.
Finally, he said that allocating a pavilion for Egyptian companies at the exhibition gives an impression of the importance of the market, which encourages foreign clients to deal with them.