EGYPT – Egypt’s corn import bill has increased to US$1.5bn monthly in 2023, compared to US$700m monthly in the past two years owing to the development of the poultry industry according to Anwar Al-Abd, Vice President of the Egyptian Poultry Association (EPA).
Maize consumption in Egypt is slightly low since the country is known to be the world’s leading wheat importer to meet its high consumption of nearly 20 metric tonnes annually.
However, maize demand is progressively taking shape driven by the development of the poultry industry and the rise of aquaculture according to Zawya.
According to Al-Abd, Egypt’s foreign reserves have dwindled since 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic hit worsened by the Russia-Ukraine war which resulted in price hikes due to constraints in the grain market and shipping.
The results have been a struggling poultry business from a nationwide feed shortage, prompting players to exit the business due to low returns and poultry inputs costs that escalated by 60%.
Additionally, Al-Abd revealed that the problem has been exacerbated by grain importers who corner the market by withholding wares and selling them at higher prices during times when no goods are being released from the nation’s ports.
Al-Abd noted that the poultry industry in Egypt consumes 500,000 tonnes of corn and 250,000 tonnes of soybeans per month, approximately 6 million tonnes per year.
However, he defended the government, stating that the crisis was not the responsibility of the Egyptian state and that, it is unfair to accuse the government of negligence since it is a global crisis.
Early this year, the General Authority in Charge of Raw Materials (GASC) floated a public tender to purchase maize, the first time the public body embarked on such an approach concerning maize in Egypt.
According to the authority, the country’s demand for animal feed currently represents 85% of the total consumption of maize due to increasing demand for animal feed to cater to emerging consumers’ trends for healthy diets.
Since March, Egypt’s government has placed strict controls on every kind of import to prevent the departure of US dollars from its economy, resulting in a wealth of goods piling up at the country’s ports.
However, the EPA has frequently appealed to the government to make corn and soybeans a strategic food source, with fixed prices and government-administered reserves giving it the same status as rice.