The devaluation of the Egyptian pound has impacted Lebanese grape exporters, as Egypt is among the top five destinations for Lebanese table grapes, according to Mr. Moussa Zgheib, general manager of the Lebanese grape grower Bamo Zgheib.
"This year many exporters left the Egyptian market because of the devaluation of the Egyptian pound. Lebanese exporters have suffered great losses because of this, but we are catching up and contracting customers in other countries," said Mr. Zgheib.
Lebanon has a large production of table grapes, according to the producer "There are more than one million new trees every year for harvest, the majority of fruits are of high quality, the most popular varieties are the Red Globe, Black Pearl, Black Magic, Crimson Seedless and Scarlett Royal and the Arra varieties. We export to Egypt, UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Kenya, Nigeria, and Russia, and we are receiving more and more orders from European markets"
This year's weather conditions add to producers' concerns, said Mr. Zgheib. "Usually, the Lebanese weather is often cold and is favorable during harvest. Currently, we are experiencing a rise in temperatures, which has an impact on the coloring of the fruit. We harvest grapes early morning hours only and transport it quickly to cold storage to preserve its quality and shelf life".
"Our advantage is our expertise in growing grapes," explains Mr. Zgheib, "We are a family farm that has been exporting grapes since the 1960s, and we have historical customers that we continue to supply, especially in Egypt. We currently hold a premium market with reduced quantities, about 40 containers exported per year, but a superior quality".
Mr. Moussa Zgheib was part of a delegation of Lebanese exporters who visited the UAE in late 2022 to meet customers. "The visit was interesting, we concluded contracts and were able to exchange with our customers. What concerns us now is to improve the conditions of storage and presentation of products at our customers' end, especially since the grapes are easily damaged. We are making progress in this area".
"In addition to the Arab Gulf countries, we also want to increase our presence in the European market," adds Mr. Zgheib. "I participate in Fruit Logistica every year, and I was able to conclude contracts with European customers this year. This is necessary, given the difficulty we have with our usual market in Egypt.
Bamo Zgheib is expanding its operations by adding a new farm this season "We plan to increase our production of Scarlett varieties, which are very successful. The first crops from this new farm will be available in two years," concludes the producer.