Third Morocco MENA Berry Conference, 550 delegates from 30 countries
Organised by Greensmile Consulting, in partnership with the Morocco authorities and professional organisation Interproberries, the third conference had the participation of 550 delegates and 34 sponsors from 30 countries. The two-day event offered once again the largest Mediterranean producers and greatest berry specialists a unique opportunity to discuss their technical and commercial issues.
Moroccan berries, the unstoppable revolution
Morocco exported 214,000 tons of berries last season and is recording 20% annual growth. Morocco continues and will continue in the medium term on its annual growth of between 10 and 20% thanks to its production of raspberries and blueberries, of which more than 200 hectares of plantations are grown each year, from the north to the south of the country. Strawberry production is set to remain stable, unless a varietal revolution is to come, as is the case with the new varieties of raspberry and blueberry of the “0 chilling” type which allow “counter-season” production in winter.
Better water management
“We expect that the plantations will continue to progress over the next 4 or 5 years,” said Amine Bennani, vice-president of Morroco’s Interproberries. The future desalination stations to be built in the main coastal regions should continue to support the development of the Moroccan berry sector in the future. The current renovation of 18,000ha of the Souss-Massa network is a good example of ongoing projects, which also include a census of existing irrigation wells and the establishment of regulations and control of pumping levels.
The inrush of Chileans and Peruvians has begun
The main Chilean and Peruvian producers have understood the strategic advantage of Morocco, positioned only a few days away from European consumers by sea or road. The Hortifrut Group and Surexport are among the new investors with current blueberry plantation projects of 50 to 100 ha, and targets of reaching 300 to 500 ha within 5 years. Driscolls is the biggest raspberry operator in Morocco with +2,000ha under contract as well as its Atlas Berries farms. Iberry Farm (Larache) is the second largest operator. The Royal Group remains the biggest blueberry producer with about 500ha, followed by Atlantic Blue (Hortifrut), African Blue (Costa Group), Driscolls, Ai Berries and Qualiprim.
Heading for 300,000 tons of exports
In 2022, Morocco’s berry farms comprised 3,400ha of strawberries, 3,900ha of blueberries, 4,100ha of raspberries and 150ha of other berries. Exports reached 214,000 tons of fresh and frozen berries last season, compared with 103,004 tons 5 years ago and 86,877 tons 10 years ago. The projection for 2030 is to surpass 350,000 tons of exported berries. Blueberries accounted for 41% of exported berry volumes last season, followed by raspberries (38%) and strawberries (21%). Morocco supplies more than 54 countries in the world with its fresh and frozen fruits. Spain is the leading export market receiving 35% of the volumes of fresh fruit, followed by the United Kingdom (25%), the Netherlands (15%), Germany (12%) and France (11%) (data for 2020/2021 season).