EGYPT – Egypt’s food exports have witnessed an impressive surge of 15%, reaching a record-breaking US$4.3 billion in the first 10 months of 2023, according to Hany Berzy, head of the Food Export Council (FEC).

The notable achievement surpasses the corresponding period of 2022 when exports stood at US$3.8 billion.

Addressing attendees at the Food Africa 2023 and Pacprocess exhibitions, Berzy highlighted that July emerged as a standout month, experiencing a remarkable 64% growth in exports, soaring from US$297 million in July 2022 to US$486 million in July 2023.

Arab countries have taken the lead as the primary importers, constituting 55% of the total share and contributing US$2.344 billion, marking a substantial 21% increase from the previous year.

The European Union closely follows, securing its position as the second-largest destination, importing 17% of Egypt’s food exports, equivalent to US$740 million—a growth of 12%.

Notably, non-Arab African countries have exhibited robust demand, importing food products valued at US$380 million, reflecting a notable growth rate of 21%.

While the impressive export figures bring positive news, Egypt’s overall trade scenario has seen a 10.3% increase in the trade deficit for September, reaching US$3.24 billion compared to the same month in the previous year.

However, for the fiscal year 2022/2023, the country witnessed a decline of 23.59% in the trade deficit, attributed to a significant decrease in non-oil imports, as reported by the Central Bank of Egypt.

Egypt’s agricultural sector has been a driving force in these positive developments.

In 2022, the country achieved a remarkable milestone in agricultural exports, reaching nearly 6.5 million tons with a total value of $3.3 billion, as stated by Minister of Agriculture El-Sayed El-Qusseir earlier this year.

The recent surge in food exports aligns with Egypt’s ambitious goal, announced in 2022, to gradually increase annual exports to US$100 billion within a five-year timeframe.

Yahya Elwathik Bellah, Minister Plenipotentiary and First Undersecretary-Head of the Egyptian Commercial Service (ECS), emphasized the need to boost industrial production to $250 billion to achieve Egypt’s export target of around US$100 billion.

Speaking at the “Egypt’s Food and Agro Blueprint with Focus on Food Safety” seminar during the Food Africa 2023 exhibition, Elwathik Bellah outlined the challenges faced by Egypt’s food industry, including limited water resources, scarce agricultural land, and high costs associated with expanding arable land.

He also highlighted that Egypt relies on imports for about 60% of its food requirements, a figure that is on the rise.

“The sector grapples with rising costs of energy and raw materials, impacting food production costs and leading to higher end-product prices,” he stated.

Competition from neighboring countries and global challenges, such as climate change and evolving food safety standards, add complexity to the sector.”

Elwathik Bellah also stressed the importance of addressing these challenges by enhancing Egypt’s food manufacturing capabilities, improving transportation and storage infrastructure, standardizing specifications, fostering research and development, and adopting modern technologies.

He underscored the importance of leveraging trade agreements, which permit duty-free entry for certain Egyptian food exports.

“Egypt also benefits from free trade agreements with Turkey, the AFTA countries, and the COMESA agreement with East African nations. These agreements play a crucial role in supporting Egypt’s position in the global food market and fostering economic growth.”

Liked this article? Subscribe to Food Business Africa News, our regular email newsletters with the latest news insights from Africa and the World’s food and agro industry. SUBSCRIBE HERE