EGYPT – The Egyptian Agricultural Export Council has unveiled plans to export approximately 2.3 million tons of citrus fruits during the current market season of 2023/24, which commenced on 5 December.

This forecast was announced by the council’s citrus committee chairman Mohamed Khalil during an interview with the state-owned newspaper.

“This figure reflects a 15% increase compared to the 2 million tons exported in the previous market season, according to a statement by the council,” Khalil highlighted.

Egypt maintained its position as the world’s foremost exporter of citrus fruits during the 2022/23 season for the fifth consecutive year in terms of quantity, while in terms of value, the country secured the third position at about USD 650 million, he added.

The current citrus export season began ten days earlier than initially planned on 15 December, responding to requests by several companies for an accelerated shipping schedule before the Christmas holidays.

Khalil emphasized that the council, in collaboration with Egypt’s Ministry of Agriculture, aims to capitalize on the global citrus shortage by augmenting Egyptian exports, particularly oranges, to retain its leading position among the largest exporters.

Oranges typically constitute 85% of Egypt’s total citrus exports each year, while the remaining percentage is divided among other varieties such as tangerines and grapefruit,” Khalil noted.

Egyptian oranges are in high demand, particularly from European countries that have faced challenges meeting demand due to poor harvests in Spain, he noted. 

The chairman added that by the end of last season, Egypt had exported 458,000 tons of oranges to Europe; 83% more than the previous year, at 214,000 tons.

Consequently, Egyptian oranges accounted for 45% of the European Union’s total orange imports, which amounted to 1 million tons during the last season.

Furthermore, Egypt seeks to expand its citrus exports to East Asian markets, including the Philippines, Japan, and Thailand.

“Notably, Egypt is in the final stages of concluding a cooperation protocol with Thailand to facilitate the import of Egyptian citrus fruits in upcoming seasons,” Khalil revealed.

Global orange production declined by 5% during the previous season, primarily due to a 23 percent drop in Spain’s production, the largest orange producer in the EU, to 2.9 million tons, according to data released by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Egypt’s fruit and vegetable exports totaled USD 2.6 billion during the first seven months of 2023, with 5.1 million tons exported, up from 4.4 million tons in the same period in 2022.

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