EGYPT – Egypt’s fast-growing onion export sector has recently been hindered by Europe’s decision to exclude them from their markets.

According to Mohammed Hassan, CEO of On Trade, Egyptian export volumes to Europe remained high until August when European domestic production, particularly in the Netherlands, France, and Greece recovered.

The increase in Egyptian exports was, thus, circumstantial, and once market configuration went back to normal in September, Egyptian onions were cut out of the European market.

Furthermore, the speedy growth of Egypt’s onion exports to the global markets especially Europe was also because of the declining supply of onions worldwide.

“We exported more onions than in the previous season,” says Mohammed. “At the national level, exports have exceeded 324,000 tons to date.” The increase in demand came at a time of lower acreage in Egypt, which raised prices.”

Following the shift, Egypt now exports most of their volumes to Arab countries, East Asia, and certain African markets.

Further contributing to Egypt’s exclusion is the fact that most European nations prefer locally sourced products over imports.

The factors contributing to this preference include the desire to support local economies and communities, assurance of higher quality, environmental considerations, and reduced costs given the absence of custom duty.

Mohammad further outlined that despite the increase in Egyptian exports in 2023, market instability has caused commercial problems.

“Climatic conditions are getting more and more difficult, which increases production costs, particularly this year. The instability of the markets also caused a great fluctuation in prices, which sometimes changed every hour. There were times when we were forced to export at no profit,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian Cabinet announced on Wednesday a three-month ban on onion exports to regulate skyrocketing prices in local markets.

According to the cabinet report, the price of onions has soared to USD 1.13 per kilogram in some local markets across Egypt, up from USD 0.87 last month and USD 0.39 a year ago.

“Egyptians consume around 15 kilograms of onions per year,” commented Alaa Khalil, the director of the Field Crops Research Institute at the Ministry of Agriculture, during an interview on the Happening in Egypt TV program.

Egypt is self-sufficient in onion cultivation, with an annual harvest of over three million tons, of which one million tons are exported.

According to Khalil, the increase in onion prices this year was due to intermediaries and some traders hoarding onion.