Germany – Manar Nasr, Executive Director of the Food Export Council, said that FEC is preparing to launch the third Egyptian Date Palm Festival in Siwa in November, in cooperation with the World Food Organization (FAO), the UAE Khalifa Award for Dates and the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
On the sidelines of the Anuga food exhibition, Nasr said that the council aims to attract the world’s 15 largest dates importers to sign agreements with Egyptian producers.
The FEC has attracted four new importers during the second session of the festival. This year, Nasr explained, the festival will see importers from India, Morocco, and Indonesia, who account for 80% of the world’s palm dates imports, next to Canada, Australia, and Europe.
Moreover, Nasr said that the FEC is preparing a strategy on the local level, through introducing the major companies with the dates producers in Siwa and on the international level through linking them with importers of dates. She stressed that Egypt will lead a change in the dates market in the world within the coming years. She noted that Egypt is currently the world’s ninth biggest exporter of dates and will soon advance to the first rank within years.
Siwa is the largest producer of dates in Egypt, with annual production reaching 5.1 million tonnes. Exports are valued at $40m in 2016, up 21% from the year before.
Despite this significant increase, the FEC is aiming for greater leadership in line with Egypt’s output. Countries like Tunisia export dates valued at $250m despite the low production rates compared to Egypt.
In order to achieve this, Nasr believes that producers should learn about the international quality and health standards so that they can penetrate the international market. The FEC will participate next week in the international marketing conference for dates in cooperation with the FAO and with the participation of the largest date producers to identify these standards.
According to Mohamed El-Kersh, head of production and procurement for Orient Dates, Egypt’s largest exporter, his company recently started to succeed in breaking into foreign markets as a result of the connection through the dates festival.
Among the top important markets that his company has successfully exported to are East Asia, the Maghreb, and the Middle East, while the company is currently seeking to enter the markets of America and Europe.
However, the date exports from Egypt are still much lower than Egypt’s productive potential, he said. This needs working to raise the quality of the product further, and this is what companies are seeking to work on through meetings and joint awareness with the FEC and FAO.
He pointed out that the industry needs to lower wasted dates, which account for 60% of production. He noted that there are negotiations with the government to raise awareness of farmers and build storage refrigerators.
Orient intends to open a new plant to produce dates in Borg El-Arab with a cost of EGP 60m to produce 15,000 tonnes of dates.