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"Alain Tulpin, Tulpin Group:

"Roomy market means high demand for Egyptian strawberries"

It's currently all hands on deck in the Egyptian strawberry sector. Insufficient Dutch and Belgian supplies means the United Kingdom has turned to Southern Europe and Egypt for produce. "The days are long and the nights short, but if the strawberries don't come now, they never will," begins Alain Tulpin of Tulpin Group. This Belgian logistics service provider specializes in air freight of particularly Egyptian strawberries to the UK.

"We've been busy with Egyptian strawberries for a few weeks now, and the volume is generally slightly lower than last year. They've, thus, started with high prices, which made people somewhat more cautious with their spending. That's always the case, mainly in the second week of December, but that's genuinely exploded this week. Demand is sky-high. I think we're presently sending 15 trucks a day to the United Kingdom."

The Egyptian volumes usually compete with Spanish and Moroccan supplies on the market around this time, but for now, it seems to be all about Egyptian strawberries. "We're not hearing much from Spain and Morocco yet. The Spanish products don't seem quite up to scratch, either. Meanwhile, Egyptian strawberries are having a good year with few quality issues. So, this busy period should continue during and after the holidays," says Alain.

"There's always a Christmas and post-Christmas strawberry price. That's still relatively high now, but it typically drops a bit from Boxing Day onwards, resulting in even larger volumes being traded. From January, many switch from 220g to 400g containers. That means you get them cheaper, but purchase volumes increase by 60% to 70%. There's demand, which will likely stay for a while."

Photo: Nik Deblauwe

British quota
Despite the high demand, Alain is not yet worried about the tax-free quota the UK has imposed, which lets that country import up to a specific volume tax-free. After that, importers can expect a 10% duty on Egyptian strawberries. "We're far from being affected by that, though. Last year, the quota was only reached on January 25. So far, it seems that will only happen quite a while after New Year. The European Union has a quota we're unlikely to exceed either," Alain explains.

He questions such a quota's validity. "It's an absurd situation. Those restrictions are meant to protect British growers. When the United Kingdom was still an EU member, the measure protected Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese growers, too. But England is now a third country. They need only to protect their own growers."

"Those growers don't come onto the market with their lit cultivation until April. The Egyptian strawberries are, therefore, not in British growers' way at all. Regardless, we must deal with it. It is what it is. I doubt it will be any more troublesome than in other years. so it could well be a good Egyptian strawberry season," Alain concludes.

For more information:
Alain Tulpin
Tulpin Group
Bus 6, 2A Kapelle Street
8460, Oudenburg, BE
Tel: +32 (0) 59 80 66 33
[email protected]

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