MOROCCO – Morocco has exported its first batch of tomatoes to the Netherlands after a tough start stemming from the intense summer heat in Morocco.

The heat adversely affected the plants, causing a delay in supply, but this setback has inadvertently bolstered the market situation.

“The overlap is much better now, as Dutch cultivation is concluding, and Morocco is entering the market with increased volumes,” Kraaijeveld’s Bart de Vries notes.

In recent years, Morocco has ascended as a crucial tomato supplier for the fruit and vegetable trading company.

Bart de Vries elaborates, “We offer a diverse assortment, including round, plum, and cherry tomatoes which are available in a spectrum of colors—red, orange, brown, and yellow.”

According to him, the intense tomatoes, known for their firmness and ability to retain shape and juice during slicing, cater to numerous processing industry customers.

Bart further emphasizes the growing significance of Morocco as a tomato supplier, stating that it serves diverse sectors, including food service, processing, and retail across Europe.

There is a shift toward supplying packaged tomatoes directly from the grower, particularly for retail buyers.

“We offer a range of packaging options, from flow pack and heat seal to top seal, buckets, clamshell, and shakers,” he explained.

The ToBRFV has prompted Moroccan growers to invest heavily in new varieties. Bart expresses optimism about the quality, taste, and shelf life of these new, highly resistant varieties.

“Morocco is taking a strategic step to combat virus pressure, and I believe this will strengthen its position in the market, especially during the winter when Spanish volumes are on the decline.”

According to the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization (EPPO) the Moroccan tomato industry faces a significant challenge with the Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus (ToBRFV).

The 2022-2023 tomato planting season witnessed approximately 10 waves of ToBRFV, causing substantial crop losses and incurring high costs.

ToBRFV, first detected in Morocco in October 2021, has spread to various regions, including the Souss-Massa and Dakhla regions.

The virus has not spared other European countries, with confirmed cases in Albania, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, and the UK.

Additionally, Central and North American countries, such as Canada, Mexico, and the USA, have reported cases.

Despite the challenges posed by ToBRFV, research corporations are actively implementing strategies to curb the virus’s spread and ultimately eradicate it.

The industry’s resilience and commitment to innovation remain evident as stakeholders navigate both obstacles and opportunities in the Moroccan tomato market.

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