Mehdi Benchekroun, a Moroccan exporter of fresh produce, suggests that the Moroccan blueberry season is progressing successfully despite several challenges.
Benchekroun remarked, “Blueberry harvests began in December in the main production areas, and the season is gradually picking up. Volumes are increasing, and we anticipate a peak by January-end, with high-quality and diverse-sized produce promising a successful campaign.”
Reported by industry insiders, berry cultivation in Morocco has expanded by nearly 30% this year, as many growers shifted from strawberries to blueberries and blackberries.
Benchekroun noted, “Blueberry growers had a stroke of luck amidst challenges faced nationwide. While a heatwave in August and an October storm affected other fruits, blueberries were not ready to harvest. Cold temperatures led to soil desiccation, but extra irrigation resolved the issue. Despite adapting to the unpredictable climate, yields remained unaffected.”
Benchekroun mentions ongoing price uncertainty: “It’s still too early to set an average price, but farm-gate prices have consistently stayed above last season, despite daily fluctuations.”
Morocco benefits from a current lull in international competition, notes Benchekroun. “With Peruvian calendars ending and Spain entering the market in March, there’s a 1 to 2-month window of calm competition, ensuring satisfactory prices for Moroccan exporters.”
On the demand side, Benchekroun observes stability: “The majority of volumes find their way to international markets in the Netherlands, France, and Spain for re-export across Europe and Russia.”
What stands out this season, according to the exporter, is the fact that payment methods are getting tighter. He says, “With inflation, everyone now needs liquidity and the cash in circulation is no longer sufficient. Everyone, from suppliers of agricultural inputs to growers and exporters, is demanding payment in advance.”