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Dates: Morocco relies on high imports

June 26, 2024 at 3:21 PM , Der AUDITOR
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MARRAKECH/CAIRO. Morocco is the second largest importer of dates in the world after India. However, thanks to higher production in its own country, imports could decline slightly this season. Egyptian exporters are still struggling with the situation in the Red Sea.

Four main suppliers for Morocco

According to the latest data from the International Nut and Dried Fruit Council (INC), Morocco is the 8th most important date producer in the world. However, the country also relies heavily on imports, as the experts at EastFruit report. Import figures are high again in the 2023/24 season, but are likely to be slightly lower than in the previous year because the country's own production has increased. And the prospects for 2024/25 are also good: according to the INC, Morocco can increase its table date production by a whopping 33.3% to 40,000 mt.

According to EastFruit, Morocco's date imports between October 2023 and March 2024 totalled 130,000 mt, similar to the previous season but significantly higher than in the three seasons before that. However, as Moroccan date production increased by 7% in 2023, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, total imports at the end of the season could be slightly lower than in 2022. Imports usually peak just before and during Ramadan. As this is not celebrated at the same time every year, imports also shift accordingly. This year, for example, they peaked in February and imports are likely to be lower in the final months of the season.  Overall, Morocco is the second largest date importer in the world, with only India importing more dates into the country. The majority of Moroccan imports, namely 90%, come from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria. The UAE is usually the most important supplier, but Egypt could manage to climb to the top this season. The country already recorded record shipments to Morocco in the 2022/23 season, and in the above-mentioned period from October 2023 to March 2024, deliveries totalled 33,000 mt.

Germany increases imports

Germany's date imports have also increased noticeably by 7.3% in the current season. In the period from September 2023 to April 2024, the country imported 22,045 mt, with Tunisia being by far the most important supplier with 12,163%. It is followed in second place by Israel, which increased its exports to Germany by almost 30% year-on-year, overtaking Iran. With 1,806 mt and a decline of a good 10%, Iran is the third most important supplier for Germany. Pakistan, France and Algeria also suffered losses, while the UAE and Turkey shipped significantly more dates to Germany.

Date* imports, Germany, in mt

Supplier

2022/23

2023/24

Diff.

Tunisia

10,844

12,163

12.2%

Israel

1,541

2,000

29.8%

Iran

2,011

1,806

-10.2%

Pakistan

1,972

1,667

-15.5%

UAE

591

759

28.4%

France

674

613

-9.1%

Occupied Palestinian Territories

477

603

26.4%

Turkey

258

556

115.5%

Netherlands

424

520

22.6%

Algeria

792

230

-71.0%

Others

964

1,128

17.0%

Total

20,548

22,045

7.3%

Federal Statistical Office of Germany / Sep-Apr

*08041000 Fresh or dried dates

Prices in Iran continue to fall

The crisis in the Red Sea still has a noticeable impact on date exports. According to EastFruit, Indonesia, for example, reduced its date imports from Egypt in the first nine months of the 2023/24 season (July-March) by around 25% compared to the same period last year. Although Egypt remains the most important supplier with just under 15,000 mt, the current season could be the worst in history in terms of exports to Indonesia. This is mainly due to the attacks by the Houthi rebels, which make shipments via the Red Sea extremely dangerous. Indonesia imports around 50,000-60,000 mt of dates a year, with Saudi Arabia and the UAE being the most important suppliers, followed by Tunisia and Iran.

Prices in Iran have fallen slightly again in recent weeks and are currently at EUR 1.39/kg FOB Iran for premium-quality Mazafati dates.

Dates, Iran

Type

Grade

EUR/kg

USD/kg


Mazafati

Grade A

1.20

1.28

Grade B

1.07

1.14

Premium

1.39

1.49

Piarom

Premium

3.49

3.73

Zahedi

Premium

1.01

1.08

Sayer

Premium

0.77

0.82

FOB Iran, order volume 1 mt

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price charts for dates in Iran
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