Morocco in 2021–22 shipped a record 110.5 million metric tons (MMT) of fresh citrus to the United States, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA/FAS) reported recently. That’s an increase of 156% over prior year shipments to the United States.
Fresh tangerine and mandarin shipments to the United States increased 142% over the prior year, to 103.2 MMT. Fresh orange shipments to the U.S. soared 1,792% over the prior year, to 7.2 MMT.
The increase is attributable to strong U.S. demand and increasing Moroccan investments in fruit packing technologies and cold treatment infrastructure required to ship Moroccan fruit to the United States.
Citrus shipments to Russia, Morocco’s largest export destination, were not disrupted due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, USDA/FAS reported. Industry contacts explained that the shipping season was largely finished prior to the conflict. However, Moroccan exporters noted that payment and shipping problems are anticipated for the future season. Exporters in other industries confirm this concern, noting that Moroccan financial institutions are too risk-averse to insure transactions with Russia. Other constraints include high freight costs, which citrus exporters report have increased by 150% in 2021–22 over the previous year.
The USDA/FAS semi-annual report on Morocco’s citrus industry noted there was no change in production figures since an initial report in December. In December, USDA estimated Morocco’s tangerine/mandarin production at 1,360 MMT, fresh orange production at 1,150 MMT and lemon and lime production at 45,000 metric tons. Morocco’s 12% citrus production increase compared to the prior year was attributed to favorable weather conditions during the growing season and an increase in harvested area.
Morocco’s land area in citrus production was reported at 65,750 hectares for fresh tangerines/mandarins, 59,600 hectares for fresh oranges and 4,000 hectares for lemons and limes.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service
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