Europe imports 31% of tomatoes from Morocco, its leading exporter

Europe imports 31% of tomatoes from Morocco, its leading exporter

Moroccan tomatoes currently dominate the European market with unprecedented exports. Indeed, the latest data revealed by the European Statistical Data Center (Euroestacom) and the Spanish platform “HorteInfo” indicated that “ Moroccan tomatoes had supplanted Spanish tomatoes on the shelves of European markets, after the latter had always been the first on the Old Continent“.

The Moroccan tomato also put its Turkish competitor at a distance and by a good margin. The Moroccan national fruit will have managed during this year an ascent of 9.74% on the European market while Spanish sales decreased by -29.5% and Turkish sales increased by +56.48%. In the first quarter of the current year, Morocco exported 196 million kilograms of tomatoes, worth around 359 million euros, which is a “record” number compared to the year 2021.

According to the report prepared by HorteInfo with data from Euroestacom’s statistical services (ICEX-Eurostat), 31% of tomatoes sold on EU markets in the first quarter of 2023 come from Morocco, 25% from Spain and 14% from Turkey. It was imported from Türkiye. The volume of Spanish tomatoes sold in the European Union between January 1 and March 31, 2023 amounted to 160.94 million kilograms, down from 67.33 million kilograms for the same months of 2021 (- 29 .5%).

The value of sales of Spanish tomatoes in the EU on the analyzed dates of 2023 amounted to 309 million euros, which is 40.21 million euros less than in 2021 (-11.51%). It is in fact the first time in history that Morocco has sold more tomatoes to the EU than Spain in the first three months of the year.

But in the little game of regression it is not just Spain. France, the Netherlands, Tunisia and Belgium, are countries whose tomato exports during the first quarter of 2023 are on a “downward slope”. France has reduced its export production by 20%, the Netherlands by 60%, and Belgium by a record rate of 72%. In the first three months of this year, Turkey sold 89.7 million kilos of tomatoes worth 140.61 million euros. It was followed by France with 55.17 million kilos for 114.42 million euros, the Netherlands with 54.08 million kilos for 167.83 million euros, Germany with 22.95 million kilos for 64.8 million euros and Italy with 15.21 million kilos for 40.44 million euros.

According to the same data, “European countries bought a total of 641 million kilograms of tomatoes during the current year, most of them coming from the Kingdom of Morocco. The Moroccan tomato remains the favorite fruit of Europeans due to its low price and high quality. The total volume of tomatoes purchased by EU member states decreased by 18.47% compared to 2021, totaling 641.04 million kilos.

Moreover, Spanish farmers are annoyed and even “irritated” by the continued entry of Moroccan tomatoes into the European market. They have become their “obsession” and being the “favorite” on the table of Europeans since 2021. Until then, Spanish tomatoes had a “strong” entry into the market. The trade agreement between Morocco and the European Union is contested by some European producers, particularly Spanish ones, who denounce unfair competition.

They accuse Morocco of practicing very low production costs, thanks to cheap labor and less stringent environmental standards than those imposed on European producers. They are also asking for a revision of the tomato import quota granted to Morocco, which was not reduced after Brexit.

Morocco benefits from a trade agreement with the European Union which allows it to export agricultural products at preferential rates. This agreement was put in place in 2012 and provides for an annual quota of 285,000 tonnes of Moroccan tomatoes at a reduced price. Morocco respects this quota and pays all its customs duties.

Faced with this escalation in the number of Moroccan tomatoes exported abroad and particularly in Europe, apprehension about their prices on the national market remains. Indeed, despite the approach of the ministry or ministries concerned by the priority policy for the internal market, Moroccan exporters are clinging “doubly” to exports of this substance, hence the exasperation of the prices of this fruit of discord.

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