This year, Jebal became the number one importer of Moroccan fresh fruit and vegetables into the GCC countries.
“We have enjoyed a 70% jump in Moroccan produce this season, with a huge market awareness of it,” confirmed Driss Dehbi, co-founder and CEO of Jebal. “In the past few years Morocco was considered more as just a gap filler in the market.” But he said that now the country has become a major supplier, in particular for tomatoes and vegetables, with continuous and growing volumes over the full season. Other regions of origin are South America, North America, Europe and Australia.“Quality is more important than price, and the Middle Eastern distributors are giving more and more preference to Moroccan produce nowadays.”
Tomatoes are the main product imported in the UAE. They are appreciated for their good quality and affordable price. “We are supplying 100 to 120 tons per week of tomatoes from Morocco, imported by air.” Citrus fruit is the second top category imported, followed by mixed fruit and vegetables. Jebal supplies the different market segments of the Gulf, from wholesale markets to modern retailers (like Carrefour, Union, and Aswaq), as well as re-export channels and its own specialty stores in Abu Dhabi.
Hamad Al Art and Driss Dehbi
Developments in other food divisions
Jebal’s CEO confirmed the firm’s expansion in other areas of the perishable food business, as it boasts its own large cooling facilities. Jebal also distributes red meat, frozen chicken, seafood and processed fruit and vegetables, as well as other grocery items like juices and confectionery. “The food service sector in the UAE is indeed expanding, with food channels becoming more structured,” Dehbi said. He confirmed that the level of quality demanded by the market is gradually improving. Jebal is also investing in Morocco, in packing operations. “Our goal is to have direct relations with the growers and improve the efficiency of the supply chain,” he said. Jebal complies with the HACCP food security standard and is pushing hard for local authorities to establish import standards. “Currently there are no obligatory standards for fresh produce coming onto the market,” Hamad Al Art and Driss Dehbi Dehbi said. He believes produce not complying with such standards should not be allowed to enter the country.