The general increase in strawberry production costs worldwide will strengthen the position of Egyptian growers, although production costs have doubled in Egypt too. This is according to Emad Mahdy, owner of Al Fayruz Nurseries, who recently embarked on the adventure of duplicating the Egyptian model in strawberry production in other countries.
Egypt resilient in the face of rising costs
According to Emad, “The cost of strawberry production in Egypt has risen considerably since last year. We needed 5000-7000 dollars to produce one Feddan (0.42 Ha) of strawberries. This year, the typical production budget is 13 thousand dollars. The increase in cost started with global inflation and is exacerbated by the devaluation of the Egyptian pound since many inputs are imported.”
“However, Egypt remains among the countries with the lowest cost of strawberry production in the world,” continues Emad. “We benefit from a highly trained and available workforce and low-cost energy. Each of these budgets represents 25% of the total production budget, and both are sourced locally and paid for in Egyptian pounds, thus escaping the fluctuation of foreign currencies. We also benefit from abundant, low-cost land and water, thanks to the wide desert and the Nile.”
The rise in production costs is offset by “a high yield per hectare in Egypt compared to the rest of the world, in very good quality,” adds Emad.”Thanks to all these reasons, Egypt is the leading exporter of frozen strawberries and competes for 4th and 3rd place for fresh strawberries. Given rising costs, the average price throughout the season for fresh Egyptian strawberries is $15 per 2.5 kg box and $1,000 per tonne for frozen strawberries. This is a very competitive and attractive price for several markets, in Western Europe, Eastern Europe, East Asia, Africa, and the Middle East for fresh strawberries, and in America, Japan, Eastern Europe, Russia, and the Middle East for frozen strawberries.”
Egypt’s breakthrough on the world strawberry map
The low production costs of strawberries and also of the plants, as well as the expertise accumulated over decades by Egyptian nurseries and growers, enable them to expand into other countries with similar production conditions to produce all year round, says Emad.
“At Al Fayruz Nurseries, we are expanding internationally either by exporting our plants or by producing directly in several countries. In the last 3 years, we have gone from supplying the Egyptian market with fresh and frozen strawberry mother plants and seedlings to exporting them to Kuwait, Qatar, India, Philippines, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, UAE, Bangladesh, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Yemen and Oman. This week, we have exported 100,000 plants for the first time to Morocco, to the Larache region, following a successful visit last June. These markets are very interested in Egyptian expertise because of the quality of the plants, certified by the Egyptian government, and the technical support service we provide during all stages of production.”
“In tandem with plant exports, we have also introduced direct production in several countries, partnering with local growers. In recent years, we have gone full steam and started production trials in Rwanda, Zambia, Ethiopia, and Mali. We have found in these countries a favorable ecosystem for strawberry production, including the availability of labor and water resources, as well as the fact that they have different production and export calendars to Egypt,” concludes Emad.