MOROCCO – A video capturing Spanish farmers aggressively damaging batches of Moroccan tomato exports to Spain has ignited a fresh wave of concerns over the impact of Morocco’s growing presence in the European tomato market.

The footage, which has gone viral, shows farmers hurling tomato boxes sourced from Morocco off a truck in protest to the surge in Moroccan tomato imports.

Spanish farmers are expressing their dissatisfaction amid what they perceive as an uncontrollable rise in Morocco’s product exports to Spain.

This incident echoes the persistent concerns raised by European tomato suppliers from various EU countries.

The Tomato Contact Group, a community representing European tomato suppliers and farmers, voiced these concerns during a meeting in 2023.

“The uncontrolled growth of tomato imports from Morocco and the Community’s policies regarding plant health and packaging, derived from the Farm to Table strategy, threaten Community tomato production,” warned the group.

Similarly, French farmers are also protesting the influx of Moroccan tomatoes. The furious producers have resorted to dumping kilograms of Moroccan tomatoes in supermarket parking lots, alleging ‘unfair competition’ from Moroccan tomato imports.

However, Moroccan exporters deny these allegations, emphasizing the adherence to rigorous quality standards.

“Our products (Moroccan tomatoes) are not invading France or Europe. We are subjected to rigorous requirements,” asserted an anonymous representative from the Moroccan Exporters’ Association.

Despite the protests, Moroccan exporter associations have refrained from officially engaging with the grievances of French farmers.

Morocco emerged as the leading supplier of tomatoes to the European Union in 2022, exporting a staggering 424,690 tons, according to the Moroccan Association of Fruit and Vegetable Producers and Exporters.

The dominance of Moroccan tomatoes in the French market is attributed to factors such as cheap labor and the European Union’s ‘tax exemptions deal,’ making Moroccan tomatoes an attractive option for customers and retail chains seeking cost-effective alternatives, as reported by the New Arab.

The ongoing unrest underscores the complex dynamics surrounding international trade in the agricultural sector and the need for sustainable solutions to address the concerns of both importing and exporting nations.

These protests are not the first of its kind; similar concerns were raised in 2021, with some producers emphasizing that Morocco’s products pose a threat to the competitiveness of European-produced items.

 Data from September 2023 indicates that Morocco’s tomato exports reached a staggering 716,700 tonnes during the 2022-2023 market year, generating revenues of USD 990 million, according to the agriculture-focused website East Fruit.

“Over five years, the volume of tomato exports from Morocco has increased by more than 25%, showing the fastest growth rates among the largest exporters of these vegetables over a decade,” noted the report.

The surge in exports, not limited to tomatoes, has raised concerns among local Moroccans. The increase in prices of commodities due to heightened demand for exports has impacted citizens’ purchasing power, sparking discontent among the population.

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