EGYPT – In a tale of triumph and controversy, Egypt has achieved a remarkable surge in its fresh table grape exports to European Union (EU) countries during 2023, as reported by EastFruit.

This success, however, has been overshadowed by scandals involving the illicit use of protected grape varieties within the country. Despite these setbacks, Egyptian products have reached an unprecedented pinnacle in the EU market for the main supply season of 2023.

From January to October 2023, Egypt exported over 70 thousand tons of fresh table grapes to the EU, marking a staggering increase of over one-third compared to the entire calendar year of 2022. This impressive feat also exceeded the average export volume of the preceding five years by a remarkable 37%.

The pivotal month for this record-breaking export volume was June, witnessing a 50% boost in sales compared to the previous year. While other months in the main export season (May, July, August, and September) did not match June’s fervor, they still demonstrated relatively high export volumes.

Notably, Egypt broadened its export volumes to all major markets within the EU region. For instance, grape exports to the Netherlands saw a 15% growth, reaching 30 thousand tons annually.

Germany experienced a significant surge of 50%, with imports totaling 21 thousand tons. Slovenia, surprisingly, claimed the third spot among importing countries for 2023, importing over 4 thousand tons—a nearly fivefold increase from the previous year. Poland, Italy, Czech Republic, Austria, and others also emerged as key buyers of Egyptian grapes.

The EU collectively stands as the world’s largest importer of fresh table grapes, bringing in 700-800 thousand tons annually from countries beyond the EU. In 2021-2022, import volumes to the EU spiked significantly, with the Netherlands and Germany serving as the primary importers, absorbing most of Egypt’s exports.

While the success in the grape market is evident, it is essential to note that Egypt faces challenges, particularly in the form of scandals related to the illegal cultivation and export of protected grape varieties.

In 2022, court-ordered uprooting of vineyards occurred due to the illegal cultivation of the Early Sweet™ variety. Despite this, in July 2023, a batch of grapes from Egypt of the same variety was destroyed in Italy.

Responding to these challenges, the Egyptian authorities announced in September 2023 their commitment to tightening the system of tracking the origin of grape varieties.

Despite these setbacks, Egypt’s success in the EU grape market is unmistakable. The nation strategically competes during its export season (primarily June-July) when local European supplies are limited, and those from other major exporters such as South Africa, Peru, India, and Chile gradually diminish.

As Egypt navigates both triumphs and tribulations in the grape export sector, the global agricultural community watches with keen interest, recognizing Egypt’s increasing significance in the EU fresh table grape market.

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