Morocco has emerged as a tomato exporter during the 2022/2023 season, where a staggering 716,700 tonnes of tomatoes brought in $990 million in export revenue. However, concerns have been raised regarding the impact on domestic tomato prices.
Lahoucine Aderdour, head of the Moroccan Interprofessional Federation for the Production and Export of Fruits and Vegetables, has acknowledged these concerns and emphasized the initiatives taken by the Moroccan Ministry of Agriculture. Support programs and strategies have been implemented in tomato-producing regions, such as Laarache, to ensure a balance in tomato supply within the domestic market.
Aderdour explained, “The Ministry of Agriculture has come up with support programs and strategies in some regions renowned for tomato production. These regions are important for maintaining balance in the domestic tomato market.”
The surge in tomato exports, which have grown by over 25%, has primarily targeted European buyers. France emerges as the leading buyer of Moroccan tomatoes, followed by the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, making Morocco one of the fastest-growing exporters of tomatoes globally, according to the latest report by Easy Fruit.
“The strategic contracts with some international countries yield profits exceeding what the domestic market can offer.” Aderdour highlighted.
While Morocco’s export success has been commendable, it has witnessed a decline in tomato exports to the Russian market, which once accounted for over 20% of all Moroccan tomato exports. This shift in focus towards European markets has raised concerns about the availability and pricing of tomatoes within Morocco.
Aderdour highlighted the economic rationale behind exporting tomatoes. He explained, “One kilogram of tomato exported covers for one kilogram sold in Morocco. The exported tomatoes cover for the shortage in expenses that the domestic market can’t meet.” In addition to recovering expenses related to factors like harvesting, transportation, and taxes, international markets provide opportunities for Moroccan growers to generate additional revenue.
In 2022, Morocco temporarily reduced tomato exports to certain markets to stabilize domestic prices ahead of Ramadan. However, this move had repercussions, including a tomato shortage in the UK, where Morocco is the third-largest supplier. The country sold 83.15 million kilograms of tomatoes to the UK in 2021, generating €104.32 million in revenue.
In February 2023, Morocco barred exports of tomatoes to reduce domestic prices and protect exports to Europe. As a result, Britain faced a serious shortage of this product, with pictures surfacing on social media platforms showcasing empty shelves.