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Sugar and grated cheese exports to Syria drop
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Exports of prepared food stuff to Syria dropped a drastic 82 percent last year, compared to the previous year, according to Customs figures. This is attributed to a large drop in cane or beet sugar exports and grated cheese for pizza topping.

Sugar exports to Syria dropped from $52 million in 2017 to $10 million last year. Exports of grated cheese for pizza dropped from $26 million in 2017 to $0.4 million last year. These products include mainly ‘Puck’ and ‘Three Cows’ brands, according to the Customs.

“Sugar exports have dropped, mainly because some Syrian sugar factories that closed due to the turmoil have opened again,” said Zeina Harb, General Manager of Chekka Sugar Refinery, the sole refinery in the country producing white sugar and molasses under the brand name ‘Zain’.

Another reason that contributed to the drop in sugar exports, according to Harb, is that the Syrian government is again taking an active role in its markets, and is providing import permits for sugar importers, giving their locals opportunities to bring in sugar.

“Europe has also opened its markets for Syrian importers, and this has pushed importers to import directly from European countries with more competitive prices,” Harb said.

Businesses in Syria have resumed operations, and are importing goods directly from Europe. Grated cheese products, particularly the brands Puck and Three Cows, are not manufactured in Lebanon, but imported by Arla Kallasi Foods, and sold to wholesalers, who in turn exported them to Syria, according to Marc Kallassi, Chairman of Arla Kallasi Foods.

Syrian businesses are now importing those goods directly from Europe, rather than going through local wholesalers.

“We didn’t witness any drop in sales from this product,” Kallassi said.

Exports of other food stuff such as cereals, flour, vegetable, and prepared fruits and vegetables exports have increased significantly but the total value of those exports is still low.

Reported by Rania Ghanem
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Date Posted: Mar 18, 2019