Moroccan food exports to the UK have increased by around 40% since January 2021. 80% of these exports are tomatoes and citrus fruits.
Chris Woodward, Consul General of Britain and Director of the Department of International Trade in Morocco, said the UK currently imports 25% of its tomato needs. In addition, 60% of sardines and 20% of soft fruits consumed in 2021 in the United Kingdom were from Morocco. Wales contributes the most goods exports to Morocco totaling £83m, while the West Midlands county of England imported the most goods from the Morocco, for a total of £130 million.
These figures could increase as a new direct sea route between Morocco and the UK will reduce journey times by road from six days to less than three. Until now, trade between Morocco and the United Kingdom passed through Spain.
Morocco mainly exports seafood products, fruits and vegetables internationally. The Kingdom is also among the world’s largest exporters of green beans, citrus fruits, tangerines, mandarins and clementines, canned olives, tomatoes, strawberries and olive oil, peppers, melons. Its food imports from Morocco consist mainly of cereals (wheat, maize), oilseeds, sugar and dairy products. Self-sufficiency varies depending on the year from 30% to 75% for cereals. In 2019, Moroccan imports of food products totaled 47.82 billion MAD (+4.5% compared to 2018), while exports amounted to 55.79 billion MAD (+5% compared to 2018) , the country’s agri-food trade balance posting an exponential year-on-year surplus according to the Office des Changes.
That said and according to Chris Woodward, Moroccan vegetables and fruits have exceeded the 4 billion dirhams mark (or 312.6 million pounds sterling) exported while at the same time Morocco buys cereals from the United Kingdom. United up to 300 million dirhams (or 23.3 million pounds sterling). In parallel, Moroccan exports of watermelons and cucumbers to the UK have continued to increase over the past year, he added in reference to Hortidaly.
In October 2019, the two countries signed a post-Brexit association agreement. The agreement entered into force in January 2021. As part of this bilateral agreement, Rabat and London have committed to maintaining and disclosing commercial relations as well as increasing the volume of exchanges broadcast. This agreement also covers fresh agricultural products (citrus fruits, tomatoes, red fruits, avocados and other market garden products, etc.), processed agricultural products (preserves, dried or frozen fruits and vegetables, olive oil, argan oil, cereals , legumes, spices, herbs, etc.) as well as fish products (fresh fish, preserves, etc.) which benefit from customs exemption, with however seasonal variations in the British tariff.
A year after its entry into force therefore, Moroccan food products are very present in Great Britain. Imports of fruit and vegetables into the UK alone generated £190 million (more than 2.4 billion dirhams) in 2020. A year in which 32.8% of all UK imports from Morocco were mainly composed of food products, canned sardines, fruits and vegetables, especially tomatoes.
Recently, and in the chapter “relations in good shape”, the Food Export Council of the Moroccan government, Morocco Foodex, an independent establishment for the control and coordination of Exports, a public body under the supervision of the Ministry of Agriculture, Maritime Fisheries and Development Rural and Water and Forests, has partnered with FareShare, the UK’s leading charity tackling hunger and food waste, in a first-of-its-kind deal to donate Moroccan food to people in the need. Morocco has effectively redistributed donations from its suppliers (Atlas Olive Oil, Olea Capital, Cartier Saada and Mutandis…) through FareShare in the United Kingdom.