The cultivation of edible flowers is a relatively recent industry in the Arab world, and it arouses consumer curiosity and growth potential, according to Mr. Yasser Samir, farm manager of the grower Azahir.
Yasser describes his operations, "We are, to my knowledge, the first edible flower farm in the Arab world. We started our operations in 2017 with an acreage of 12 ha. We grow more than 30 varieties of edible flowers and do trials for crops that are not so far adapted to the Egyptian climate. Edible flowers represent 65% of our production, the rest is made up of aromatic plants and some vegetables".
According to the producer, the edible flower industry is experiencing great difficulties "the coronavirus pandemic has hit our operations hard. The majority of our customers are restaurants, and they had to close down during the pandemic, which forced us to drastically reduce our business."
Hatem Allam, founder of Azahir, said: "We didn't have time to recover from the coronavirus and were hit by global inflation, which significantly increased our costs. In addition, restaurants have been forced to reduce their costs and do without secondary ingredients such as edible flowers. The situation of the industry is, therefore, difficult at the moment."
Faced with these difficulties, the producer has resorted to a different marketing approach: "We have made marketing efforts to reach other categories of customers. We have carried out advertising campaigns on TV channels and social networks, published tutorials and recipes on the use of edible flowers, and sponsored chefs who have a significant reach in the Arab world. Our argument was the innovative aspect of the use of flowers in the kitchen, especially as it is new in the Arab world, and its health and aesthetic aspects."
According to the producer, these efforts are beginning to pay off since the farm is beginning to reach a clientele of households and cooking enthusiasts in addition to its basic clientele, composed of food factories, pastries, hotels, and restaurants.
In terms of markets, the producer mainly supplies the local Egyptian market but has "reached a level of maturity" that allows him to export. "We have started to export to the Arab Gulf countries, it is a very promising market that has begun to respond to our commercial approaches. There are, of course, many challenges, but we believe in the strength of the industry and its potential and continue to invest despite the current economic situation," concludes Yasser.
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