Nothing is going well in the canned fish industry. An unprecedented drop in resources, a dizzying rise in input prices in the absence of a subsidy and the fatal repercussions of the pandemic have forced professionals to utter a cry of distress asking the supervisory authorities to act to limit the damage.
After a few years of irregular supplies, the pandemic struck a blow to the profession which was accentuated with a dizzying historic outbreak.
While the “Halieutis” strategic plan had set a supply of 80% by 2020 more than ten years ago, the profession does not even manage to stay the course today. The sector, which before the pandemic was around 50% of its capacity, cannot even maintain this level today.
The resource is becoming increasingly scarce. While the sector received 430,000 tonnes for a capacity of nearly 900,000 tonnes, or even more, it is struggling to maintain this level.
Worse, because of an overexploitation of fishery resources, in particular sardines, the units no longer function as before and their normal regime thus reducing the number of working days.
At a time when we had to claim full employment thanks to this plan, the sector faces an anthology of constraints which have not allowed professionals to continue to take their troubles patiently as they have done for years.
Professionals grind black
In an unusual and rare press release, the canned fish manufacturers have just expressed their fed up with an untenable situation.
The fish canning industry, one of the oldest in the country, which was one of the most contributors to the absorption of unemployment, with 30,000 direct jobs and more than 80,000 indirect jobs, is turning at less. half of its capacity.
“People want to work…, but in the absence of the resource, working hours are down by 40%,” said a source familiar with the matter on condition of anonymity.
The sector which has contributed 11 billion dirhams to the GDP since 2009 and which has been able to increase its contribution to the economy by increasing the value of exports to more than 11% of the Kingdom’s agri-food exports, according to a Union press release. national fish canning industry (Unicop), is going through its worst days.
And since an evil never comes alone, the scarcity of the resource combined with the health crisis weighed heavily on its performance. “The supply chains have been disrupted because of inter-sector competition and the structural lack of resources,” laments Unicop.
In addition to the effect of the pandemic, the sector, which is 80% focused on exports, is suffering from a drop in demand. “Customer contracts are not respected, thus affecting the strategic positioning of the Kingdom and reducing the quantities of exports which are -25% in volume compared to 2020 and foreseeable at -40% by the end of the year”, regrets the Unicop in its press release.
Canned fish endures overexploitation of the resource
From bad to worse, manufacturers have seen input prices increase in unprecedented ways, especially after the surge in international transport prices. “The price of vegetable oils: Soybean-Sunflower and olive oil have experienced dizzying outbreaks sometimes exceeding 100% increase”, regrets Unicop, stressing that the increase also concerns the prices of the canister and cardboard packaging.
The latter “have not ceased for several months to post unplanned periodic and historical increases generating general disarray, not only of manufacturers, but also of customers”, criticizes Unicop.
According to an industrialist who requested anonymity, the price increases are due to monopoly situations which the State has to face in order to preserve this sector which provides foreign exchange.
This being the case, the industrialists who in their press release avoid designating by name those responsible for the overexploitation of the resource, which in the opinion of a professional, the most important cause of this situation, plead for financial support from the part of the state.
“In addition to the application of a biological rest that can no longer be necessary, we want the supervision to have a right of scrutiny on the input prices and on the monopolistic situation of some suppliers of the canned fish industry, but also that it establish subsidies for export assistance, logistical assistance, subsidies on inputs which are legitimate, ”said a professional in a statement to MoroccoLatestNews FR.
“We must first apply the recommendations of scientists as with regard to biological rest and it must be general and not partial with rigorous specifications specifying the milling and zoning to be applied and subsequently subsidize this. vital sector for the Moroccan economy which does not benefit from a subsidy while others benefit upstream and downstream ”, he concluded.