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EBRD, EU and Italy help expansion of Egyptian fruit and vegetable firm Farm Fresh

By Nibal Zgheib

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  • EBRD loan and EU grant to help export-oriented Farm Fresh build new factory
  • Investment to improve company’s efficiency and competitiveness in global market
  • Youth employment programme to support training and recruitment

One of Egypt’s leading frozen fruit and vegetable exporters, Farm Fresh, will be able to increase its production and expand its revenues with financial support from the EBRD and the European Union.

Family-owned Farm Fresh, which employs around 200 people, will use a €7.3 million financing package to build a modern factory in Alexandria, with high-tech production lines and new machinery and equipment for sorting, blanching, freezing and packaging fruit and vegetables.

The modernisation will make Farm Fresh more efficient and the expanded capacity should allow it to triple its production of frozen fruit and vegetables, the vast majority of which are exported to the EU and the USA.

That in turn will support the businesses of local farmers who provide all of the company’s fresh produce.

The financing package is made up of a  €2.1 million loan from the EBRD, a €0.3 million investment grant from the EU, a €2 million loan from Ahli Bank of Kuwait and a €2.9 million equity contribution from existing shareholders.

Farm Fresh was established in 1987 by the Boulos family and is an Egyptian joint-stock company. It started by producing and exporting frozen molokhia (or Egyptian spinach) and okra. Now its wide range of products includes peas, spinach, sweet corn, green beans and strawberries for an expanding global market with consumers increasingly oriented towards healthy food.

With improved competitiveness, companies like Farm Fresh have an opportunity to start cooperating with corporates and multinationals in EU and other markets.

The operation is supported by the EU through an EBRD programme specifically designed to strengthen value chains and competitiveness in SMEs in Egypt as well as in Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia. In addition Italy, through the Small Business Impact Fund (funded by Italy, Japan, South Korea, Luxembourg, Sweden, Switzerland, Taipei China and the United States of America), provided investment support and will help Farm Fresh to implement a work-based learning programme and increase its capacity to recruit and retain young skilled labour.

The signing of the loan took place in the presence of EBRD Managing Director for Industry, Commerce and Agribusiness, Jean-Marc Peterschmitt and the Chairman of the American Egyptian Frozen Food Company and vice-Chairman of Farm Fresh, Joseph Boulos, during the EBRD’s Annual Meeting and Business Forum  in Sarajevo.

The EBRD works in Egypt to support sustainable energy, direct and indirect financing of private enterprises and the promotion of infrastructure reform. The Bank has invested over €4.9 billion in the country since it started operations there in 2012.

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