Unprecedented summer heat in Morocco delayed plantings of raspberries and strawberries last year, contributing to shortages and price rises on the European market this season

Extreme weather in Morocco has not only impacted the vegetable sector, as Fruitnet reported this month, but also the berry segment, according to Nabil Belmkaddem of Moroccan cooperative BestBerry, causing current shortages and price rises on the European market. 

Nabil Belmkaddem

BestBerry’s Nabil Belmkaddem

“There was a major heatwave in the summer in the Agadir region, which slowed the development of the summer raspberry plantings,” he said. “Therefore, we are not experiencing the usual peak of winter raspberries from Agadir.”

In mid-August, the region registered the country’s highest ever temperature of 50.4C, causing greenhouse temperatures to reach an intolerable 70C.

Plantings of both strawberries and raspberries have decreased compared to the previous season, Belmkaddem continued, the result of both the heat and other climatic factors. 

“In northern Morocco, a major storm hit in late-October, causing a lot of damage to raspberry farms,” he revealed. “This is why we are now seeing a shortage of raspberries in the European markets and higher prices than usual. Strawberry prices are also higher than those of last season and this is due to less area being planted, as well as delayed plantings due to the summer heat.”

Early blueberry varieties from Morocco are already in production, he said, and prices are also higher than those of last season. “Year after year, additional volumes of Moroccan blueberries are now being sold in Asia,” Belmkaddem explained.