Fruit and vegetable prices have taken off in Morocco, prompting the Moroccan government to ban exports of potatoes, onions, and tomatoes to West Africa.
According to Mr. Mehdi Benchekroun, CEO of the Moroccan exporter DMB & CO, the rise in prices is due to the cold snap that Morocco has experienced recently, which is not favorable to the production of several crops: "There is obviously the weather factor that imposes itself, reducing volumes and raising prices, but there are also other factors related to supply and demand. Only 10% of the gaps are intended for the domestic market, and the rest is intended for export, and there is a strong demand coming from Europe currently."
The rise in European demand is due to cold weather in Europe, according to Mr. Benchekroun: "The supply from Spain and Portugal has fallen in the last two weeks, given the weather conditions. European importers have fallen back on Moroccan products. The demand for tomatoes, peppers, raspberries, and blueberries has skyrocketed, and with it, the prices."
This is good news for Moroccan exporters, who were waiting "impatiently" for European demand to pick up. "Moroccan exports will finally be revived after a long summer that has favored the Spanish and Portuguese producers and unbeatable prices of Egyptian exporters who have benefited from the devaluation of their currency. Now it is our turn to supply the European market."
According to the exporter, the prices of blueberries and raspberries have particularly surged: "There is a very strong demand from European importers, but our volumes are not sufficient now. There is less harvest because of the cold weather, and we expect to follow the demand starting in March."
According to the producer, the drought that Morocco is currently experiencing has not particularly impacted the soft fruit industry: "In the region of Gherb and northern Morocco, where the majority of soft fruit plantations are located, there are large reserves of underground water with low salinity levels. It is not the water that is the problem at the moment, but the low temperatures that force producers to reduce the number of harvests to avoid damaging the fruit."
M. Benchekroun says he's available to provide a wide range of fresh fruits and vegetables wanted in the European market: "We have the capacity to export up to 4 tons per week of red/green/yellow California peppers, round tomatoes, corno blanco, and capia peppers, all of which originate from Agadir, and similar quantities of blueberries, raspberries and strawberries from the Gherb region. Our watermelon programs from Zagoura will be available starting April."
And he concludes: "We believe that more collaboration between European importers and Moroccan exporters is the solution against market fluctuations. This could be, for example through contracting Moroccan producers. We will increase our greenhouses acreage in the Agadir region from next season, and we are currently open to negotiating contracts for this new production."
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Mr. Mehdi Benchekroun
DMB & CO