Moroccan Farmers Have Golden Opportunity, as Frost Sweeps EU

Rabat – As frost sweeps across Europe, continental farmers have had a rough start to the year, giving Moroccan fruit and vegetable producers and exporters a hefty upper hand in the coming seasons. Spain experienced the worst snowstorm to hit the Iberian peninsula in 50 years in January, with regions of the country reaching -25 […] The post Moroccan Farmers Have Golden Opportunity, as Frost Sweeps EU appeared first on Morocco World News.

Moroccan Farmers Have Golden Opportunity, as Frost Sweeps EU

Rabat – As frost sweeps across Europe, continental farmers have had a rough start to the year, giving Moroccan fruit and vegetable producers and exporters a hefty upper hand in the coming seasons.

Spain experienced the worst snowstorm to hit the Iberian peninsula in 50 years in January, with regions of the country reaching -25 degrees Celsius, and again in March, when the frost caused major damage to crops, worth approximately €55 million (MAD 591.5 million). The first round of disasters in Spain saw serious salad shortages in UK supermarkets, while the March frosts mostly affected fruit trees, such as peach, pear, apple, or apricot, as well as almond, and wine grape crops.

France, meanwhile, was considering declaring an “agricultural disaster,” as early spring frost-damaged crops and vines across the country in early April. French Minister of Agriculture, Julien Denormandie, told Franceinfo radio that the situation was “quite exceptional,” considering that the frost affected not only vineyards but also other crops like beet and rapeseed across the whole country.

“We already know that we will have a very low harvest in 2021,” said Jean-Marie Barillere, head of a European wine trade group, told AFP. The frost has “affected 80 percent of French vineyards,” Barillere said.

Read also: UK’s Growing Reliance on Moroccan Fruit and Vegetables

In Italy, a harsh drop in temperatures between April 8 and 9 affected crops across the country, damaging stone fruit, kiwifruits, and vegetables. “We knew a cold front was coming, but we would never have imagined anything like this, once again. Temperatures dropped to -2°C, with unavoidable consequences for crops,” Franco Lillo, a field technician at AOP Arcadia told FreshPlaza. Farmers across the country noted the damage to apricots, peaches, pears, cherries, among others.

“It is still not possible to estimate the total damage on our 2,000 total hectares. We usually start harvesting in mid-March but, due to the weird temperatures, we have reached mid-April and have harvested only 10% of the produce,” said Giosue Del Vecchio, counselor for agriculture for the Rignano Garganico municipality.

Spain, France, and Italy were not the only countries to experience frosts, and as such, some observers speculate that the diminishing supply and surplus demand for fresh produce will lead to increased prices as well as the prevalence of imports from beyond the EU’s borders. As Edward Velasco from Rodanto noted, while “Spanish fruit was delayed… we did have some imports from Morocco which filled the gap.”

Morocco’s season

Meanwhile, on the southern coast of the Mediterranean basin, Moroccan farmers can count on another profitable year. In 2020, Morocco’s exports to the EU saw an increase of 9%, reaching total exports of more than 1.5 million tonnes, of which nearly half was Moroccan fruit.

In 2020, Morocco exported 434.87 million kilograms of tomatoes to the EU, 214.17 million kilograms of watermelons, 120.49 million kilograms of peppers, and 74.86 million kilograms of oranges, representing a value of  €843.44 million (MAD 9.1 billion). 

While most of the losses in Europe do not coincide with Morocco’s biggest exports, it could be a good chance for Moroccan producers and exporters to carve out a bigger slice of pie for themselves in the EU markets.

In 2020, Morocco was ranked 28th in peach exports, fifth in almond exports, and 63rd in cherry exports. According to Mordor Intelligence, Morocco currently exports over 50 types of fruits and vegetables. Some of the major exports are citrus fruits, tomatoes, green beans, zucchini, pumpkins, and berries. Although Morocco exports a wide range of fruit and vegetables, citrus fruits and tomatoes occupy the major share of the market.

It remains to be seen if Morocco’s exports will experience another boom in 2021, but all signs appear positive. As European supply shrinks, and the prices increase, Moroccan farmers have the opportunity to shine and fill in the missing gaps in the EU market.

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