The Moroccan berry campaign is currently ready to go. The first strawberries from the northern production facilities have already been on the market for two weeks; raspberries are expected to be added in week 49. According to current information, good yields and great fruit quality are expected, says Mathias Hundhausen, Managing Director of Euromeridian BV.
The company, which specializes in soft fruit, has its own contract cultivation of raspberries (Agadir, South Morocco) and strawberries (Kenitra, North Morocco) and has invested heavily in local production in recent years. "Our early varieties have grown beautifully due to optimal weather conditions. The ripening of strawberries has been accelerated a little because it is a few degrees too warm for this time of year. But the fruit quality of our early varieties -Fortuna and Samantha- is very good so far". Apart from Fortuna, the strawberry varieties Savanna and Victory are cultivated until March.
According to Hundhausen, the first signs are particularly positive for raspberries. "We expect good yields per hectare and we are not worried about the quality of the raspberries. Compared to the strawberry campaign, the marketing window for raspberries is much longer: "We can usually deliver until May or even June, depending on the weather."
Loss of wholesale sales
The Covid19 pandemic is currently on everyone's minds and it is shaping the daily conversation in the berry industry. "We have seen the markets across Europe stalling for over three weeks. Both blueberries and raspberries are currently experiencing partially disastrous prices due to oversupplies. But this peak should soon be over, so our marketing season from Morocco is starting at the right time. With the strawberries the market situation is somewhat more pleasing. Hundhausen: "Demand is already present, in terms of prices we are currently well below the level of the previous year. But these are still market conditions with which we can work."
During the first wave of Corona, in spring, and the subsequent closure of the hospitality industry, higher sales were achieved in the food retail sector. This also had a positive effect on the marketing of soft fruit, said Hundhausen, looking back. "Currently, during the second wave, however, less is being bought in retail stores in general. In addition to the food retail trade, we supply around 15 percent of our goods to wholesalers. Due to the renewed gastronomy closure and the discontinuation of the weekly markets, we fear that large volume sales in this sector will collapse permanently. This would be a problem for many importers: "Where else could these goods be sold?"
Support for the agricultural sector
Nevertheless, the management of the internationally operating company is predominantly positive. "We are looking forward to the season with confidence because we generally expect the market to recover and stabilize. Furthermore, we do not yet see any major problems in logistics or goods procurement coming up. After all, the Moroccan government seems to have the situation well under control and is providing the best possible support for the agricultural sector, which is so important for the country."
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