The table grape season is about to kick off in Morocco, with the first harvests expected by the end of May. Volumes will be impacted by the climatic abnormalities and drought that the country is experiencing, although the damage is not of the same severity depending on the region, according to Elana Shabaily, marketer at Les Vergers du Soleil.
Elana said: “We plan to start the first harvest in Taroudant at the end of May and we will deliver to the market the same week thanks to our proximity to Europe. The start of the season in Taroudant and Marrakech is very typical. However, the later varieties have been brought forward significantly due to the unusually warm spring. We expect the entire harvest to be done by mid-July.”
The exporter explains: “Taroudant, in the south of Morocco, has suffered the negative effects of a “hot” winter with negative cold units. This affected the yield, but we hope to recover from Marrakech where we had a decent winter although late. We hope that this is an anomaly and not a trend.”
She adds, “At Les Vergers du Soleil, since we have production areas in both regions, our overall volume will remain the same this year. Most of our production will be seedless white. The season will start with Early Sweet before moving to Arra 30, Timpson, and ending in July with Ivory. Our red offering is based on Arra 29 throughout June and Krissy in July. There is also a small production of Midnight Beauty.”
Moroccan exporters are primarily targeting the European market, adds Elana: “Southern Europe remains very important for us before the start of their own season. Latin America and Africa in general are markets that we intend to develop in the coming years. At Les Vergers Du Soleil, we are in a very privileged position, with historical customers and demand exceeding availability.”
As for pricing, exporters will have to bear the brunt of the economic circumstances: “Despite the effects of inflation on input costs, we don’t expect this to be fully reflected in selling prices. We are seeing the effect of the economic downturn on the purchasing power of the general public, and the fact that grapes are considered a luxury item may limit price growth.”
Climate upsets and drought have become a reality that is now catching up with the table grape industry, and the agricultural production in general.
Elana comments: “We have implemented new investments and varietal development as a result of these challenges. We have built an additional 50,000 m3 of irrigation structure in 2023 that will be used to sustain the upcoming season, but it still needs to rain. We are constantly evaluating new varieties that can withstand extreme conditions, ways to reduce irrigation water, and alternative water sources. In addition, at the national and regional levels, a number of important projects have already been launched to improve the current situation. The first of these should begin to bear fruit in the next two years.”
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Les Vergers du Soleil