MOROCCO – The aftermath of Morocco’s scorching summer heatwave is poised to impact European consumers as tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers face challenges in production, particularly in the critical growing region of Souss-Massa.

With temperatures soaring to an unprecedented 50.4°C in August, the repercussions have been substantial.

Fatiha Charrat, Deputy General Director of Morocco’s Delassus, warns about the significant impact: “The events that took place last summer in Morocco are not trivial.”

The combination of the ToBRFV virus and subsequent heatwaves has disrupted plantations, affecting the supply chain.

Charrat explains that by the end of July, growers had managed to replant up to 30% of the affected area, but the extreme heat in August led to the burning of young plants, necessitating further replanting.

“Inside the greenhouses, temperatures went up to 70°C. The young plantings of July were burned and again needed to be replanted, not to mention all the plants that lost many bunches of tomatoes,” says Charrat.

Despite the challenges, she notes that the situation is gradually improving, with growers now able to fulfill orders.

Christopher Metrakos, Senior Managing Director of Natural Resources at Ontario Teachers’, emphasizes the broader impact, stating, “The Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit warned that such high temperatures were threatening UK food imports from the Mediterranean.”

The reliance on Morocco to compensate for shortfalls in Spanish tomatoes has led to concerns about potential shortages in European markets.

However, amidst the challenges in the tomato sector, Morocco has been making strides in the global blueberry market, particularly in Southeast Asia.

Reports from EastFruit highlight that Moroccan blueberry exporters have broken records, delivering 1.4 thousand tons to Southeast Asia from January to November 2023 – a nearly 50% increase compared to the entire 2022.

The primary destinations for Moroccan blueberries in the region include Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia, accounting for approximately 96% of total supplies.

Additionally, Morocco has expanded its market presence, entering Indonesia for the first time with a trial batch of 720 kg.

While some countries experienced a drop in berry imports due to supply issues from Peru and Chile, Morocco, along with other exporters like Australia and Zimbabwe, managed to increase their market share.

Southeast Asia is witnessing a surge in fresh berry imports, driven by the rising incomes of the middle class and a growing expat community.

According to the IMF, the local economy is expected to experience robust growth in 2023-2024, further supporting the consumption of fresh berries in the region.

Despite the challenges faced by Morocco’s tomato industry, its success in the blueberry market underscores the resilience and adaptability of the country’s agricultural sector, positioning it as a key player in the global fresh produce trade.

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