Citrus: more exports but less operating margin

Citrus: more exports but less operating margin

The current citrus export campaign is undoubtedly set to reach 800,000 T, a fine performance, thanks to the late variety Maroc Late. However, production costs and approach costs have increased by double digits and the risk of payment default on the Russian market, the leading export destination, still hovers.

At first glance, the Moroccan citrus sector recorded, from September 1, 2021 to June 13, 2022, an export record since the current campaign reached 735,400 tons (T), thus recording a growth of 42% compared to the previous one. same period of the previous season despite unfavorable weather conditions. This performance is expected to increase to about 800,000 T by the end of the export campaign, according to ASPAM.

This increase, of about 10%, is mainly due to the Maroc Late variety, a late ripening orange variety. Looking more closely at the reference years for citrus exports, we see that the tonnage reached this year corresponds to the figure recorded in 1979, ie 767,000 T. However, there is a shadow in the picture!

Production costs have shown a sharp increase since the outbreak of Covid-19, especially with the surge in raw material prices. Thus, the increase in the cost of production factors varies between 30 and 50% depending on the region and the variety, while the approach costs corresponding to the final export costs (packaging, transport, sea freight, port operations and services ) grew by 20 to 30%, according to professionals.

Clearly, the increase in the volume of citrus exports does not necessarily affect their value, as it depends on several other factors including yield, conditioned by climatic factors, market prices, economic profitability, etc.

Processing, the poor relation
With regard to processing, it will increase, according to the same source, from 120,000 T to approximately 150,000, or even 160,000 T. As a reminder, under the sector’s new program contract (still awaiting implementation), the objective is to increase the volume exported to 1 million T by 2030 against 650,000 T currently, and to develop the processing sector, with a target of 200,000 T by 2030.

Although this growth trend, with this “record” figure, concerned all citrus species and all destinations, it reveals another reality. That of the fundamental change observed for several years in the structure of Moroccan exports.

In fact, exporting producers have devoted themselves to super-early and late-ripening small fruits to the detriment of oranges, hence the need to rebalance the varietal profile of the national orchard in relation to commercial outlets and competition, in particular emanating from the Turkey, Egypt and South Africa.

Based on this observation, citrus exports by variety, as of May 31, 2022 show, according to ASPAM figures, that out of a total of 727,938 T, small sizes constitute 86% of Moroccan citrus exports, i.e. 628,044 T, mainly thanks to clementine (255.573 T), Nadorcott (296.453 T), Nour (61.737 T), Nova (9.967 T), Ortanique (3.017 T)…

Orange dethroned by small calibers
For the orange segment, it represents barely 12.43% of the exportable supply this year, mainly through the export of the Maroc Late variety (23,409 T), the Navel (30,840 T), the Navel Lane late ( 7,240 T), the Midnight (1,031 T), the Salustiana (8,241 T) and the Sanguine (19,740 T). The rest, namely 9,390 T, or 1.29% of the total, includes lemon (6,523 T), and Pomelos (2,847 T).

According to the press release from the supervisory ministry, relating to the progress of the current campaign, which was made public on June 15, the export volume of easy peelers reached, at the end of the current campaign, 628,600 T (+40% compared to compared to the previous campaign). With regard to orange exports (large fruits), they recorded a growth of 62% to 97,200 T.

Export: the Russian market on your mind
It is the Russian market – currently facing collection difficulties – which captured the lion’s share of national exports with 28% of total exports (203,726 T), thus ahead of the EU (20.64% with 150,216 T ). These two destinations are followed by the North American market, notably the USA (17.3%, with 125,899 T) and Canada (12%, with 86,592 T).

Regarding the African market, fifth in the ranking, it accumulated 62,649 T (8.1% of the total), according to figures from ASPAM. In addition, the English market and the Gulf countries respectively captured 58,099 T (8%) and 24,394 T (3%), while the Asian and Belarusian markets totaled 7,099 T and 5,182 T.

As for exports of market garden products, they recorded a growth of 11% on June 13, to reach 1,418,600 T. Regarding the flagship market garden product, the tomato, the volume of its exports reached 608,600 T, against 521,800 during the campaign. on the same date, i.e. +17%.

Yassine Saber / ECO Inspirations

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