Morocco, known as a major global supplier of fruits and vegetables, has been ramping up its exports in this category. However, not all agricultural products have seen positive trends. This article from EastFruit highlights the concerning decline in Moroccan fresh potato exports over the past several years, with shipments hitting a new low in the 2022/23 marketing year.
Four years ago, Moroccan potato exporters successfully shipped approximately 100,000 tons of potatoes, valued at $26 million, to international markets. Unfortunately, since then, these exports have been steadily decreasing, with annual declines ranging from 44% to 48%. Consequently, export revenue has plummeted nearly fivefold, causing Morocco to slip from 21st place in 2019 to 25th
in 2022 in the global ranking of potato exporters. The current season paints an even bleaker picture, with only 27,900 tons of potatoes exported from July to June, resulting in the lowest revenue in five years at $5.7 million.
Despite these challenges, Moroccan potato exports have diversified geographically. While in the 2016/17 marketing year, Moroccan potatoes were shipped to just 24 foreign markets, they now reach consumers in 44 countries.
Although European nations are prominent importers of potatoes globally, Moroccan potato exports predominantly find their way to African countries. Notably, Moroccan potato exports to the European Union peaked in the 2018/19 marketing year during a severe European drought. However, supplies to European markets dwindled significantly in subsequent years and are nearly non-existent today.In contrast, within Africa, the primary consumers of Moroccan potatoes are situated in the Sub-Saharan region, particularly in the western Sahel region. Morocco exports potatoes to countries such as Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Senegal, with a significant portion going to Mali. The climate in this area is unpredictable, characterized by alternating storms, floods, and droughts, necessitating imports of fruit and vegetable products.
In February 2023, the Moroccan government imposed a ban on the export of potatoes, onions, and tomatoes to African countries as a measure to combat rising prices for these products. This policy decision has undoubtedly impacted foreign trade, contributing to the results observed in the 2022/23 season.It’s important to note that this analysis specifically focuses on exports of ware potatoes, excluding seed potatoes. Moroccan growers predominantly do not export potatoes for planting; instead, they have been witnessing a substantial increase in the importation of seed potatoes. Seed potatoes in Morocco rank as the second most important product in the fruit and vegetable category after dates. The 2022/23 marketing year saw a record volume of seed potato imports into the country.
Considering this surge in seed potato imports, there is a possibility of increased potato production in the upcoming season, which could, in turn, lead to a potential uptick in exports. The accuracy of this forecast will become clearer as the season progresses.