Chile’s vertically integrated producer, marketer, and distributor of berries Agroberries Limited is investing €40 million in the first phase of its expansion strategy in Morocco.
The investment covers the planting of 300 hectares of blueberries across three Moroccan regions.
Agroberries’ entry into the Moroccan market aims to respond to the growing demand for blueberries and complement the company’s existing offerings in the UK and the EU.
The Chilean company plans to plant 1,000 hectares with different berry types over the coming years. The planting process is expected to start in 2023.
Given the geographic proximity between Morocco and the European market, Co-Founder and CEO of Agroberries Jorge Varela considers the investment in the North African country “a natural next step” for the company’s global expansion plan.
“This move leverages our deep agronomical expertise, and partnership approach and will help us to continue supplying our European customers year-round with the highest quality berries,” Varela explained.
Agroberries currently manages 2,500 hectares of berry farms globally. In addition to its network of third-party growers across all berry types, allowing the company to market and supply a retail client base in Europe, the UK, the US, and Canada.
By expanding into Morocco, Agroberries secures shares in a fast-growing market that has seen a nineteen fold increase in blueberry production between 2005 and 2020.
According to Blue Berries Consulting magazine, Morocco produced 35,100 tonnes of blueberries in 2020. There has been a significant yearly increase in the planting area in Morocco which has reached up to 500 new hectares per year.
Nearly 90% of Moroccan blueberry production is primarily exported to Spain, France, Germany, the UK, and the Netherlands, according to the President of the Moroccan Association of Producers of Red Fruits (AMPFR) Amine Bennani.
The geographic proximity of Morocco to Europe enables the country to export both fresh and frozen berries across the world including the US, Canada, and China. “From the farm to the consumer in Europe, it takes us 4 days, to Russia 6 days,” Bennani explained.
However, this comes at an ecological cost. According to converging reports, the production of blueberries is water intensive with the fruit consisting of 85% water.
In Spain, another water-scarce country and leading global exporter of the fruit, the production of blueberries in Andalusia dried out 80% of natural water resources at the Donana national park, a UNESCO heritage site.
Similar ecological disasters might occur in Morocco given that country is struggling to maintain a sustainable supply of water for the coming years and withdrawing support for similarly water-intensive avocado and watermelon cultivation.
And by producing more blueberries, Morocco is in effect exporting its "virtual water" stored in the fruit to other countries that have large water reserves.