The strawberry season in Morocco is nearing its final stages. The peak of the season took place in December and lasted until January. According to Kaoutar Abouljalil of the export company Leader Morocco, the quality and prices of the strawberries were great, though demand was lower than last year.
“I think the relative lack of demand had to do with the beginning of the Moroccan season in 2016. Back then, the weather conditions in Morocco were quite hot, which had an adverse effect on the cultivation of strawberries. The quality suffered back then. Even though the quality of the current season is excellent, I do think that the previous season has made buyers more wary of our strawberries,” says Kaoutar Abouljalil.
Leader Morocco exports its strawberries to the Russian market by air cargo. While a lot of exporters these days are hesitant to work with the unpredictable Russian market, Leader Morocco is something of an expert when dealing with Russia. “Our company director is Russian. This allows us to communicate clearly and directly with Russian buyers. We also make use of prepayments, which lessens the risk that is involved when trading with Russia.
Leader Morocco sent about a cargo plane a week this season, which amounts to a weekly volume of 3 to 4 tons. The company has been involved with the Russian sector for three or four years now. The strawberries are sourced from growers in the northern regions of Morocco and exported directly to wholesalers in Russia.
“The Russian market showed less competition when compared to previous seasons,” says Kaoutar. According to her, there were fewer exporters from Turkey and Egypt active in Russia, which caused a decrease in volume, in turn leading to higher prices for strawberries.
Kaoutar admits that there still is a lot competition within the domestic strawberry sector of Morocco. However, her company doesn’t really need to take any rival exporters into consideration, as the Russian director ensures a unique position for the company with regards to trade between Russia and Morocco.
For Leader Morocco, the main challenge for trade with Russia comes down to the high costs of logistics. “There were several logistics companies active between Morocco and Russia. However, some of these have quit, which means that a single company currently pretty much has a monopoly on logistics between the two countries. This makes it harder to lower our costs or to arrange cheaper prices for logistics.”
According to Kaoutar, you need excellent quality, good service and impeccable transparency in order to succeed as an exporter of fresh produce. “You need to be correct in everything that your company does,” says Kaoutar in conclusion.