For the first time, Egyptian strawberry exports have expanded their presence in European markets this season to overshadow their Israeli competitors, according to KsaToday. European inspectors have reportedly rejected several shipments of Israeli produce due to violative levels of pesticide residues and opted for Egyptian imports instead.
Head of the Egyptian Exporters Association Sharif Maghribi stated that European importers had dramatically increased Egyptian strawberry imports over the past season, expressing satisfaction of the produce’s price and quality.
A new Egyptian-European Union (EU) association agreement, signed earlier this year, had opened the door for several Egyptian agricultural products to enter European markets, including strawberry, flowers and cabbage.
The free trade agreement exempts several Egyptian agricultural exports from customs duties altogether and prolongs export season of agro-products such as grapes, strawberry, water lemon, honeydew melon and asparagus. The agreement provides for strawberry quotas to rise to 1,500 tons by 2004.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture and Land Reclamation Yussuf Wali, stated that the agreement was expected to increase the volume of Egyptian agro-exports to European markets by up to 250 percent.
Another factor in Egypt’s export success in this increasingly competitive market is the fact that Israel is currently concentrating on strawberry seed breeding programs.
Most Egyptian strawberries are currently exported to the UK but considerable shipments reach the Gulf markets as well. Other strawberry export destinations include France, Belgium, Holland, Italy and Germany.
Egyptian Strawberry export season opens in November to February, and is thus able to precede Moroccan produce, which ripens in January. Strawberry fields are cultivated mainly in north central Egypt, including Giza, South Tahrir and Sharkia regions, as well as in the country’s northeastern region of Ismalia. — (Mena Report)
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