Click to contact us or call 02476 353537

PICO overcomes Egyptian challenges by driving export expansion into new markets

Leading fresh produce company PICO has managed to both expand exports and develop new varieties, including exporting organic herbs for the first time to North America.

Pico packhouse

Pico packhouse

Major Egyptian fresh produce exporter PICO has achieved its first successful exports to North America, during a year that has also seen the firm increase sales to Russia, South East Asia and South Africa.

Far from being affected by the current political uncertainty in Egypt, Cairo-based PICO successfully exported herbs to both eastern and western Canada during 2013, and is now preparing strawberry shipments for North America.

However, this does not mean the company has neglected its traditional UK and continental Europe markets, with PICO focusing on increasing market share through the development of new products, including Wonderful pomegranates, mangos, avocados and oranges.

Despite the uncertain times, PICO has experienced continuous growth over the past 12 months for exports of stonefruit (white and yellow-fleshed peaches and nectarines) and grapes (seedless and some seeded white, red and black varieties, including Early Sweet, Prime, Ice, Red Globe and Midnight)1.

Export volumes of strawberries (particularly Winter Dawn, Fortuna, Redeva, Capri and Festival) and oranges (Navel and Valencia) have also experienced strong growth.

New export products include Wonderful pomegranates, mangos, several varieties of avocados and lychees, and the latest additions to PICO’s fruit and vegetable basket are cherry, plum and mini plum tomatoes in both standard varieties and premium varieties, and organic herbs.

PICO has grown a number of different herbs on small scale for the local Egyptian market for several years, but it has recently increased production for export and achieved organic certification for its herbs during 2013.

“With almost 20 kinds of herbs we can serve almost all needs, but we are strongly focusing on larger volumes of exotic basil types,” explained Hagenguth.

Varietal development

PICO has always been a trend setter and innovator among Egyptian producers and has introduced many crops and varieties to the country, with the company’s own Intellectual Property (IP) department overseeing licensing of the varieties in Egypt and protecting the IP rights of breeders.

Heavy focus is put on varietal development and the company works closely with all its clients to understand their needs and market trends.

This is demonstrated through PICO’s work on varietal development for stone fruit and grapes, with a number of nectarine, peach, plum and apricot varieties currently being trialled by the company2.

PICO will be highlighting many of these innovations at the forthcoming Fruit Logistica 2014 trade exhibition, which takes place in Berlin, Germany from 5-7 February next year.

“For us, Fruit Logistica is always a place to meet all our clients and the supermarkets that we work with to plan the programmes for 2014 and beyond,” said Hagenguth.

Positive indications

Hagenguth said PICO was only affected in January 2011 during events that led to the ousting of former President Hosni Mubarak, when the whole of Egypt came to a complete halt and a general 24/7 curfew was being enforced.

“At that time we could not export for several days, but ever since then operations and exports have not been affected,” she said.

“The devaluation of the Egyptian pound is a challenge when it comes to importation of inputs, and due to inflation all local costs have increased.”

With agricultural exports being one of the main drivers of the Egyptian economy, Hagenguth said PICO had seen signs of positive developments and was confident that the country was on its way to proper stability and democracy.

“A lot of local and foreign initiatives to encourage foreign investment are taking place and we are receiving positive signals from investors who are starting to look at Egypt again,” she added.

PICO has almost 40 years of experience of producing and exporting products including table grapes, strawberries and stone fruit to international customers.

The company, which farms over 8,000 hectares of land, was the first grower in Egypt to cultivate the country’s arid desert and the first to produce and export traditional export products. PICO now receives 80% of its turnover from exports, which are certified by GlobalG.A.P., BRC and ISO 22000, among others.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * great opportunity to promote your business to our dedicated readership of farmers, landowners, estate managers and associated agricultural professionals.
Contact us today on 02476 353537 and let's work together to drive your business forward.