Wednesday, June 19, 2024
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Rabat – European tomato suppliers from Portugal, Italy, France, and Spain have expressed renewed concerns about the substantial increase in Morocco’s tomato exports. The producers raised their concerns during a Tomato Contact Group meeting held earlier this month, highlighting the alarming growth of Morocco’s tomato exports to the European Union (EU).

Citing the implications of the Farm to Table strategy and its policies on plant health and packaging, the group emphasized the potential threat to community tomato production. FreshPlaza, an agriculture-focused website, quoted the group as stating, “The uncontrolled growth of tomato imports from Morocco and the Community’s policies regarding plant health and packaging, derived from the Farm to Table strategy, threaten Community tomato production.”

The group presented data illustrating Morocco’s significant surge in tomato exports, which escalated from 365,695 tonnes in 2021 to 557,225 tonnes in 2022. This figure rises to 701,541 tonnes when accounting for the inclusion of the United Kingdom (UK). FEPEX, an organization representing Spanish exporters and producers, cited UN data indicating a decline in Spanish tomato exports to the UK from 143,182 to 70,780 tons during the same period.

Furthermore, recent data reveals that Morocco has surpassed Iran and Spain to become the world’s third-largest tomato exporter in 2022. These statistics have heightened concerns among European producers, who have consistently raised objections to the escalating volume of Moroccan tomato exports.

In April, the UK embassy disclosed that Moroccan exports accounted for 45% of all tomato imports during the first two months of 2023, emphasizing the impact on European markets. This growing market share exemplifies the loss of competitiveness faced by European producers, particularly evident in the decline of Spanish tomato exports to the UK.

Notably, the surge in Morocco’s tomato exports has sparked concerns among Moroccan citizens as well. The skyrocketing prices of food products have adversely affected the purchasing power of households, prompting calls for the government to intervene by temporarily halting vegetable and fruit exports. This measure aims to alleviate the pressure on citizens’ diminished purchasing power amid the ongoing inflation crisis.

The increasing influence of Morocco’s tomato exports on the European market, coupled with the socioeconomic repercussions faced by both European producers and Moroccan citizens, has intensified the urgency for stakeholders to address this issue. As European suppliers express their concerns, the future of tomato trade between Morocco and the EU remains uncertain, calling for further dialogue and potential policy adjustments to balance the interests of all parties involved.

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