Moroccan avocado cultivation is booming. Since 2014 there has been an annual growth of about 30%. As a result, Morocco has moved up into the top 10 avocado producing countries. Med Fruit Europe, located at the Food Center in Amsterdam, is one of the importers of Moroccan avocados. Director Mehdi Haddadi talks about the developments in Moroccan cultivation, the current market situation and the new brand 'Bite Me' that will be supplied to customers from week 48 with the Fuerte variety.
Currently, the prices of the Hass avocados are under pressure. "Where in November we were still selling for +13 euros, prices are now between 8.50 and 10 euros for sizes 12-18. We are used to the demand for Hass avocado decreasing slightly in December. Overseas exporters from Chile, Colombia, South Africa and Zimbabwe are on the market for longer. Because of this, we have reduced the harvests for Europe and more avocados are going directly from Morocco to the Middle East in this month. The market is expected to pick up again from January," Mehdi said. "Demand for Fuerte has been healthier in recent weeks, but certainly not at the level we are used to. The global increase in avocado plantings will have this effect on prices."
The varieties that dominate the crop in Morocco are Hass, Fuerte, Zutano and Bacon. Harvesting in Morocco takes place between September and May. The Greenskin varieties are available from the end of September, the Hass from November. "In Morocco, an area of 8,000 hectares of avocados has been planted to date. Given the growing demand at home and abroad, this production is likely to increase further," Mehdi said. "The Moroccan avocado is highly valued internationally for its flavour, colour, grading and low to no MRLs on the fruit. Besides Europe, Russia, the Gulf States and Asia are interested in Moroccan avocados."
The plantations are mainly located on the coast, from Larache to Rabat. "These are areas where it is not too cold in winter. This Gharb region represents about 90% of the planted area. The average growing temperature is between 13 and 29 degrees. The ideal condition is 25 degrees for the hottest months and 15 degrees for the colder months. Last season, very high temperatures were recorded in the areas around Kenitra, which meant that part of the avocado harvest was lost. There are challenges every year during the winter as the cold can damage the avocados."
"We are also now seeing more and more avocado plantations that comply with European supermarket certification such as GRASP and SMETA, so that is a very positive development," says Mehdi.
Asked about the threats to Moroccan cultivation, he replies: "The question is whether it is responsible to continue the growth in plantations. This will cause problems with the water resources in the country. We have seen the same thing with the melons in southern Morocco, for example. The agronomists therefore see this as a major challenge for the future."
"In terms of presentation, the Moroccan avocado sector is still in its infancy. Many avocados are packed in the same cardboard boxes. In our production, we had a team from South Africa visit to train our 'cutting team'. Also, this season we are launching our brand 'Bite Me' which will be delivered to our customers from week 48 with the Fuerte variety."