African countries, including Morocco, accounted for about 40% of the global production of dates in 2021, according to FAOStat. Nevertheless, as reported by EastFruit, Morocco has never been among the global leaders in exports of dates and even continues to increase their imports!
In 2022, Morocco was the third biggest importer of dates in the world, with only India and Egypt importing more. In addition, dates were the most important category of Morocco’s imports of fruits and vegetables in 2022.
For Moroccans, dates are a long honored and admired fruit, an important element of the national cuisine, and a favorite delicacy, which enjoys wide popularity among both Moroccan citizens and tourists. Remarkably, per-capita consumption of dates in Morocco stood at about 7 kg in 2021, while globally it averaged just 1 kg!
Morocco has been actively increasing domestic production of dates. In 2010-2021, it has grown by almost 50%, and now Morocco is the 14th largest producer of those fruits in the world. Nevertheless, domestically grown volumes are not enough to satisfy the Moroccan market demand for dates, and the country is forced to increase imports.
In 2017, Morocco imported just 70,000 tonnes of dates. In 2022, the import volumes totaled 109,000 tonnes valued at $213 mln, more than 31% of Morocco’s total spendings on imports of fruits and vegetables. Imports of dates were at their historical high in 2021 (113,000 tonnes), but this year can beat that record, as imports in January-May have already totaled 73,000 tonnes.
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Moroccan dates are usually harvested in October-November, with the start of the domestic season even marked by annual Festival des Dattes or Festival de la Datte, which is held in Erfoud and attracts thousands of farmers, processors, business visitors and big fans of Moroccan dates.
As regards imports, they are active in November-May and peak in March-April. Dates are imported mostly from the UAE, Tunisia, Egypt, and Algeria.
Algeria is worth noting as the country with the fastest growth rates of exports of dates to Morocco. Despite some tensions between Morocco and Algeria, including trade in dates, exports of Algerian dates to Morocco have more than quintupled in the past 5 years. Meanwhile, the UAE, Tunisia and Egypt showed more stable development of exports to Morocco.
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