Egyptian table grape exports are forecast to rise by 13 percent to 170,000 metric tons (MT) in the 2020-21 marketing season (October to September), according to a USDA report.
The higher estimates exports would come amid a 2.5 percent rise in commercial production to 1.42 million MT. The increase is driven by favorable weather conditions, new technologies, and growing demand.
The United Kingdom was the top export destination in 2019, accounting for 23 percent of total exports. Other important markets are the Netherlands, Russia, and Germany with 21, 12, and 6 percent of the export market share, respectively.
Fresh table grapes are one of the top produce exports by value for Egypt with 2020 export value expected to reach $250 million.
According to the USDA GAIN report, grapevines are among the most suitable fruit crops for sandy soils and newly reclaimed land, as well as for the older Egyptian land
traditionally farmed next to the Nile river. For this reason, cultivated areas of table grapes exist across the country.
Table grapes is second only to citrus in terms of production quantities in Egypt. Grape cultivation is spread geographically from Alexandria in the north to Aswan in the south, which – combined with the production of early and late ripening grapes – enables the prolonged availability of fresh table grapes in the market from May to November.
"Yet two areas in particular – Behira and El-Sadat – represent the overwhelming majority of grape exports to the European Union, Egypt’s largest table grape market.
Behira represents about 40 percent of the total planted area of grapes in Egypt and 18 percent of total production," the report said.
"Climate conditions, types of soil, and production technology are the main factors that give table grapes the ability to be grown all over Egypt."
The Egyptian table grape planting season begins the first week of February. Planting is done via cuttings, where they are planted in black polyethylene bags, filled with a mixture of peat moss and sand, and stored in greenhouses before the seedlings are transferred into the open field. The vines start fruiting on their third year.
Harvesting season in Egypt for early grape varieties begins in late May and ends in September. Harvesting for late varieties begins in late June and ends by November. The Thompson and Flame seedless varieties dominates production as it remains popular in the EU market, the major importer of Egyptian grapes.
However, producers are expanding toward higher-value varieties to supply other markets and meet the evolving palate of consumer tastes worldwide. The most popular of these other varieties includes Early Superior, Superior, and Roomy.
Weeks ahead of the season’s first South African grape exports, South Africa’s table grape industry released a strong statement on Sept. 22. The indication is that its growers are ready for a much better season than the last.