This spring, Ahmed Laasri started Handelfresh in the Netherlands. The trader wants to further boost fruit and vegetable exports from his family's business in Morocco. "Our Moroccan tomatoes sell well in Spain and the United Kingdom, but Dutch customers still have to get used to the prices," he says.

"Morocco has a reasonable volume of round tomatoes available. Baby plum and small cherry tomatoes, though, are only sold on a program basis, as hardly any are available for day trading. The water shortages and heat in Agadir took their toll this year. The tomato virus has also made its presence known in Moroccan crops, with an outbreak on nearly 200 hectares. So, it's a struggle to get volumes released." Ahmed thinks the volume of round tomatoes will increase slightly from mid-December.

"Exports to Spain are going quite well, and there's more demand from England. Unfortunately, sales in the Netherlands are still lagging because of the high transport costs. It costs almost €6,000 to get a truck from Agadir to Rotterdam. Many Dutch customers are waiting for the market to drop, but I don't foresee a big drop. They'll, thus, have to accept the current prices if they want Moroccan tomatoes," says Ahmed.

"Moroccan tomatoes have proven themselves, quality-wise, in recent years, and that's no longer an issue for sales. Many buyers spread their wings when Morocco couldn't supply them due to an export freeze. They began buying tomatoes from countries like Turkey and Albania. However, for many, that was a hard learning experience."

"Although those tomatoes were cheaper, they weren't nearly as good as the Moroccan ones," Laasri says. "With the investments Morocco is making in areas such as irrigation and machinery, the proportion of Moroccan tomatoes should only grow."

Handelfresh trades Moroccan avocados too. "These are available in good volumes, and that market is somewhat stabler than the tomato one. We're sending our first load to London this week," Ahmed concludes.

For more information:
Ahmed Laasri
Handelfresh B.V.
Tel.: +31 (0) 850 041 776
Mob.: +31 (0) 636 411 846