For the very first time, US-based Frutta Group will be sourcing blueberries in Morocco this winter. “We’ve made a collaboration agreement with Grupo Cheers Portugal who is experienced in growing and importing blueberries from Morocco,” says Juan Eduardo Sainz of Frutta Group. “Morocco has quicky become one of the main players in the production and export of fresh blueberries in the world,” added Sainz. The blueberry operation that Frutta Group sources from is young and production is still limited. As a result, distribution of Moroccan blueberries is limited. “We only bring them into the US, Canada, and Spain this season”.
15-day journeyMorocco’s blueberry sector is focused on exports. “They are purely an exporting country,” commented Sainz. “As a result, the logistic options and facilities are very good. From Morocco, the journey to North America takes about 15 days into the ports of Philadelphia and Montreal and Spain is around the corner. The first blueberries from Morocco will arrive around the first week of December and if weather is favorable, export quality will be available until the end of May, perhaps the first half of June. “However, production volume will peak in January, February, and March.” Expectations for quality are high. “Our grower-partner grows the latest varieties and in combination with exceptional weather during the growing season, the quality of the product is superb,” shared Sainz. As a result, demand for Moroccan blueberries is expected to be strong. “In addition to good and stable quality, lower availability from the southern hemisphere this season also drives demand.”
Climate changeLower production volumes in the southern hemisphere are predominantly caused by El Niño. “With more than 25 years of experience in the fresh produce industry, I can affirm that climate change is playing a very important role in product offering,” commented Sainz. “It’s no longer easy to carry out a smooth loading program. In the last two to three years, all products in all growing countries had production problems due to the climate. I don’t only consider this an alarm, but also a message to consumers and retailers to value the effort made by all growers in the world who put fruits and vegetables on the shelf and table year-round.” In addition to blueberries, other important products for Frutta Group include citrus and grapes. The company sources produce around the world and brings it into the US, Canada, and Europe.