Morocco's raspberry and blueberry exports worry Spanish farmers

Despite approaching alarming levels of water stress, Morocco is encouraging investment in crops that require a lot of water, such as berries.

Rabat – Morocco's growing raspberry and blueberry exports are expected to saturate the European market, raising concerns among Spanish farmers, said to FreshPlaza the manager of Freshuelva, Rafael Domínguez.

"Morocco is increasing its export volumes of raspberries and blueberries and they are selling them at very aggressive prices," Dominguez said. "The market has been saturated with supply for about two weeks and prices have fallen to low levels [and] we are very concerned about the raspberry campaign."

Dominguez added that Spanish farmers "cannot enter into a price war with this country," referring to Morocco's cost-competitive productions driven by lower production and labor costs.

The manager of Freshuelva said that the production of raspberries this season in Huelva and Morocco "is reaching its highest point ever" thanks to the warm and sunny climate of the Mediterranean.

However, the area dedicated to cultivation is decreasing in Spain, while Moroccan growers are planting more crops to increase production.

The growing flow of foreign investments in Morocco's berry industry is helping the North African country become a major exporter of valuable fruits like blueberries. By increasing its participation in the fruit market, and particularly in the berry market, Morocco competes directly with traditional exporters such as Spain, France and Italy in the EU market.

“Our objective now is to make Europe aware of the value of European products”, explained Domínguez. "Increasing competition from third countries, the increasingly limited availability of water resources and the lack of labor are some of the biggest problems facing the sector."

With Morocco developing its agricultural infrastructure with the help of the EU and private investment, the Spanish-French-Italian contact group hopes to address Moroccan competition at its next meeting.

Despite facing severe droughts and reaching alarming levels of water stress, Moroccan agricultural policies continue to support the production of crops that require a lot of water, such as blueberries, citrus and tomatoes , with most of the production going to export markets such as the EU and the UK.

In 2021, Morocco became the XNUMXth largest fruit exporter in the world by value, according to a recent USDA report quoted by Fresh Plaza.

The country's fruit exports doubled from $729 million (MAD 7,8 billion) in 2016 to $1,5 billion (MAD 16 billion) in 2021 due to an increase in berry production. Last year, Morocco exported more than 40.000 tons of blueberries, 85.000 tons of strawberries and 40.000 tons of raspberries.

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