When the days grow shorter here again, the focus will shift to Morocco. Tomatoes can be found there to fill the shelves in winter. Even though it has only just officially become summer, the North African country is already attracting a lot of attention. If the exposed winter cultivation again results in much lower volumes, cultivation in Morocco may offer a solution. "I think we have taken big steps at exactly the right time," said Kacem Bennani Smires of Delassus Group at the recently held Global Tomato Congress. Duroc, which is part of Delassus Group, grows tomatoes on 450 hectares and also packages the tomatoes itself.
Kacem Bennani Smires and Abdelkhalak Torres of Duroc, part of the Delassus Group
Kacem is referring to the professionalisation that has been made. "We have become very professional very quickly and yet remained competitive." Initially, the Moroccan tomato stood out because of its competitive price, but according to Kacem this is now unjustified. In terms of quality the tomato from Morocco also comes up trumps, and all the peripheral conditions are well taken care of. "Instead of just sending our tomatoes to Perpignan, we now supply a lot more pre-packaged product year-round to the UK and Germany, for example."
Duroc has become fully committed to snack tomatoes. Last year, the tomato company promised to launch two new varieties this year.
"The UK in particular has put Morocco on edge," says Kacem. "They have put us to work on getting certifications, among other things." It makes him confident about the sustainability of Moroccan cultivation. "Food miles are only a small part of the total carbon food print. Gas is not really an issue for us, although the costs of many other production factors are also rising. We import almost everything, from seeds to packaging materials. Everything is becoming more expensive."
The same also applies to the competition. Morocco does have one disadvantage in competition with tomato cultivation further north: water. "That is our weakness," Kacem acknowledges. The coming into production of a large desalination plant in Agadir later this year is therefore very important for the sector there. "It is a blessing."
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