The Food Export Council (FEC) is studying export opportunities available in Latin American markets after the Mercosur Agreement enters into force, which makes it easier for Egyptian products to enter the markets of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay with customs privileges.
Hani Berzi, the head of the council, said that Egypt’s signing of the Mercosur Agreement is an important step to increase exports to this large bloc in Latin American countries, which is a promising market with a large number of consumers and a large volume of imports in the food industry.
He pointed out that the only obstacle facing companies operating in the sector is higher costs due to distance and cost of shipping.
He added that there is a large exhibition that will be held in Brazil for the food industry and the council could not participate because of the high fees for participation in the exhibition and airline tickets. He stressed that the high cost of participation in foreign exhibitions limits the ability of the Egyptian presence in important international forums and must be reviewed.
On the exports of the sector this year, Berzi said the total exports of the sector increased by about 5% to reach $1.9bn during the first eight months of this year compared to $1.8bn during the same period last year.
On the importance of European markets, he said that European countries are the second largest trading partner of Egypt after Arab countries and is still a promising market, and there are many opportunities for Egyptian products to expand and increase the volume of their business, stressing that Europe has many advantages, notably the high selling price and large consumption.
European countries accounted for 12.3% of the sector’s exports during the period from January to August 2017, recording $235m, up 21% from the same period last year.
He explained that the Anuga Exhibition is the largest specialised food exhibitions, adding that its importance to Egyptian companies is being a window on all European markets, not only the German one.
Germany is the largest European importer of processed food during the same period, with a value of $45m, representing 19% of total exports to EU countries, followed by Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, France, Britain, Belgium, Greece, Romania, and Poland.
The activities of the 34th session of the Anuga Exhibition, scheduled to be held in Cologne, Germany, during 7-11 October will be attended by 87 Egyptian companies, including 68 under the FEC and 19 under the Agriculture Export Council.
Berzi stressed the existence of export and expansion opportunities for many sectors in the European market, mainly frozen strawberries and frozen artichokes, medicinal and aromatic plants, oil seeds and fruits, dried onions, animal feed, essential oils, frozen vegetables, fruit nectars, pickled olives, honey and molasses, concentrates, juices, and animal intestines.
Regarding the recent problems in the sector, Berzi said that finding violations in products of one small company can impact the entire reputation of Egyptian products on global markets. He noted that the FEC held meetings with the Saudi side to end the ban imposed on Egyptian food exports in coordination with the Food Safety Authority, the Ministry of Agriculture, and the Agriculture Export Council.
He called for the need to subject all exporters to one entity, which will be able to help companies and raise awareness of the rules of export and raise their ability to compete in the global markets, as well as punishing the companies violating the rules repeatedly or those that do not commit to them.