Pics: Irish cheddar cheese features on the supermarket shelves in Egypt and Algeria

Reporting from Cairo, Egypt

Total Irish exports to Egypt were valued at €58.6 million in 2019 – up from €34 million in 2018.

These exports were dominated by dairy at €38.9 million in 2019, followed by seafood at €12.8 million and prepared foods at €6.8 million.

Ireland’s largest dairy export category to Egypt, in volume and value, is cheese. In 2018, Ireland exported 3,656t of cheese to Egypt – valued at €12 million.

Additionally, full year figures for 2019 show some 36% growth on 2018 figures to €16 million (5,122t).

As part of the ongoing trade mission, the Irish delegation visited Carrefour Egypt yesterday evening.

Carrefour Egypt belongs to the Majid Al Futaim an Emirati holding company based in Dubai, a leading shopping mall, communities, retail and leisure pioneer across the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

The Irish delegation at Carrefour yesterday, which included Bord Bia CEO, Tara McCarthy and DAFM assistant secretary general, Sinead McPhilips

Carrefour is the leader of the retail market in Egypt with over 40 stores, and it has plans to open 20 more stores in the coming years.

During the store visit, Irish cheese (both white and red cheddar) was spotted, interestingly with some reduced fat options also. There were also a number of other Egyptian brands carrying the Irish flag, with selected products on promotion.

The current exchange rate is €1 equates to E£17.45 (Egyptian pounds).

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Looking at domestic production, local cheese production estimated at 405,000t, while cheese imports amounted to 25,000t in 2018. Egypt is a major cheese exporter and highly competitive in the Gulf region (due to the low value of the Egyptian pound).

In terms of the type of cheese, white cheese is most popular with mozzarella and processing cheese gaining in popularity; leading cheese producers include: Domty; Obourland; and Lactalis Halawa Fromageries Bel.

Moreover, Irish butter was also spotted on the shelves in the supermarket. However, Irish butter exports to Egypt declined from a high of €13.3 million in 2016 to €430,392 in 2018. But, 2019 witnessed a strong recovery to reach €9.2 million (2,477t).

Similar to Algeria, butter is not consumed in the same volumes as fermented products and drinking milk, and primarily used in cooking as an oil and baking; New Zealand is the dominant supplier of butter.

Other Irish dairy exports to Egypt

Skimmed milk powder (SMP) exports are the strongest growing category, rising 76% in 2018 to reach €1.6 million. In volume terms, Irish SMP exports to Egypt rose by 110% on 2017 to reach 1,067t.

2019 figures show this trend continuing – volumes have reached 2,909, accounting for a rise of 172% on 2018, while values have almost trebled to €6.1 million – representing a 274% value increase.

In 2018, Ireland exported limited amounts of casein to Egypt – some 157t valued at €794,087.

Again, full year estimates for 2019 indicate very strong growth with volumes increasing by 267% to 578t, which is valued at €2.6 million.

In addition, just over 241t of infant food (valued at €2.3 million) was exported to Egypt from Ireland in 2018 – a 67.5% increase in volume on 2017. However, data for 2019 shows an 80% fall in the value of infant food exports – equating to €466,420.

In 2018, whey milk protein (WMP) exports grew by 24.9% in volume – from 671t to 838t in 2018, valued at €2.1 million. Full year estimates for 2019 indicate growth of 53% in value terms to €3.2 million and a 31% increase in volume.

Cheese in Algeria

Earlier in the week, the delegation visited Ardis – an Algerian hypermarket chain belonging to Groupe Arocfina. It is the leader of the sector in Algeria with one hypermarket in Algiers and one in Oran; a third store is due to open in Tizi-Ouzou.

Again, more Irish cheese was visible on the shelves.

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