– In this agricultural year 2023, butter production reached 40,000 tons. We’re close to a historic avocado production record, but we’ll definitely get there next season. With the season coming to an end next June, the Moroccan sector could still continue its positive momentum and obliterate the previous season’s record of 42,300 tons of avocados shipped. This figure will triple to 100,000 tonnes by 2027.
– Morocco has become a significant player in the international butter trade within ten years. By the end of 2022, the Kingdom will become the world’s 9th largest butter exporter. How do you explain this speed? What are your predictions?
– Moroccan butter is highly appreciated internationally. This momentum can be explained by four main factors. First of all, its taste quality, its color and its size, in addition, avocado is a fruit used in various world cuisines and is increasingly introduced to dishes (sushi, juice, salads, etc.). From a geographic perspective, the proximity to Europe is a boon for importers, unlike Colombia or Mexico, where transit times can take up to three weeks. The Moroccan avocado is also valued for its hygienic quality. Morocco offers a sustainable fruit that complies with social and environmental standards. Its production is likely to increase further due to increasing demand for local consumption and exports. In terms of projections, Morocco is on track to become the leading exporter of African butter, with a production of 100,000 tonnes in the coming years.
– There is strong enthusiasm for the European Community market, which represents 90% of exports. What is the relationship between local consumption and increasing demand for exports and rising prices?
– The law of supply and demand determines. When there is strong demand from importers, the first to arrive is the lowest priced. High demand, high price. On the other hand, if there is less demand, we ask the farmer directly. In this case, we dictate prices.
In addition, some producers buy agricultural products on the stalk from orchards in Morocco, change the country of origin in their packing stations, and then export it.
– Is Spain a major importer of Moroccan avocados?
– In the last two years, we have seen a diversity of importing countries such as France and the Netherlands, as opposed to the past when Spain was the sole importer.
Almost 75% of Moroccan butter exports went to Spain in 2017-2018, a proportion that will drop to 39% in 2021-2022, as Moroccan butter is now shipped directly to buyers in other countries. Spain was the leading importer of Moroccan avocados for the 2021-2022 season, followed by France, the Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom. Other minor importing countries include Russia, Switzerland, Belgium, Portugal and some countries in the Middle East and Africa.
– What is the role of exporters in preventing speculative behavior by middlemen?
– This season Moroccan avocados have been exported at an average price of 4 Euro/kg, previously prices reached 5-5.5 Euro/kg. We have seen speculative behavior by middlemen this season which has reduced prices and exporters should avoid this in future.
In this context, we must work under contract with farmers to obtain stability in terms of price and volume, allowing us to honor our obligations with customers, especially Europeans.
– MAVA, which you chair, was formed in 2021. What are your main tasks?
– The objective of this association is to act as a catalyst for the various approaches that exist for the export of Moroccan butter, the primary objective of which is to ensure and guarantee the food safety of European consumers.
We have led to MoUs by encouraging the National Food Safety Authority (ONSSA) to open up to new markets such as China and the US. We are working hand in hand to improve the quality of fruit harvest and treatment programs including pesticides.
– From last September, it has been decided to stop giving subsidy to water intensive crops including avocado trees. To what extent has national output been reversed by this move?
– This decision will affect only small and medium farmers. As agreed, the department will publish growing export figures.
– What is the importance of butter industry?
– Avocado tree culture provides 2.5 million hours of work and brings 100 million euros of foreign currency to Morocco. A culture the government needs to encourage more at a time when Morocco is pushing a deficit balance into debt.
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