Amid the war crisis that has ravaged Ukraine since last February and which has led to an escalation of conflict over grain resources around the world, farmers and wheat producers in the UK have shown increasing interest in the market, seeking a “foothold” to develop and invest in promising grain market opportunities in the Kingdom.
While Morocco is living through the “worst drought” in thirty years, which caused the Kingdom’s cereal yield to drop by 62 percent to about 8.9 cents per hectare, as a result of low rainfall during the past season; A working visit took David Bell, Director General of the British Agricultural Development Board (“AHDB”), and some members of the latter, on a “mission” to Morocco to promote Britain’s wheat and barley grain.
At a time when the area planted with cereals in Morocco this year amounted to some 3.6 million hectares, the “circle of competition” between the world’s largest producers of wheat has been widened to ensure the supply and supply of cereals to Morocco. , all types. The British also began “bilateral consultations” with the National University, milling professionals and buyers to keep grain export opportunities to Morocco open.
Official data, issued at the end of July by the Directorate of Financial Studies and Projections, confirmed that “the production of the three main grains did not exceed 32 million quintals, a decrease of 69 percent compared to the previous agricultural campaign, and of the 58 percent compared to the average of the previous five years.” While National Mills University has estimated that up to 70 percent of the crop has shrunk or perished; This increased the internal demand for grains, materialized in a “great import campaign in terms of volume and value”.
In recent months, France topped the list of suppliers to Morocco; But other countries entered the line of competition, most notably Britain, after grain imports from Ukraine and Russia, which used to meet about 35 percent of Morocco’s wheat import needs, were halted. But developments in war and conflict created competitive opportunities in the global marketplace.
“Wheat biscuit” .. a promising market in Morocco
The “biscuit production market” in Morocco is of particular interest to the British, especially in light of the “unsuitability of the country’s soil in general for the production of biscuit wheat”; This creates an annual import demand for biscuit wheat, which currently amounts to 80,000 tons and continues to grow year on year.
“This growth is linked to a change in the Moroccan diet, which is oriented towards a ‘Western’ diet and towards the consumption of European-style biscuits. In response, biscuit factories are springing up across the country and exporting their products to sub-Saharan Africa,” according to reports from the British Agricultural Development Council.
This presents both an opportunity and a challenge for UK farmers. Although fine wheat was developed for the production of British biscuits (UKS) by UK farmers, it was widely known on the Moroccan market, even among mills that did not use it.
Consequently, demand for British wheat is “sharply increasing” and biscuit wheat of French or Canadian origin is often preferred, while “US biscuit wheat” is not competitive due to high transport costs.
Despite this comparative advantage, British experts say the challenge is not related to the demand for British grain; The areas destined for wheat cultivation that may interest the Moroccan market are “insufficient”, contributing to a reduction in supply, and posing problems both for export markets and the United Kingdom, where demand is also strong. Although limited supply may result in relatively high prices compared to soft wheat from other export sources.
Morocco is expected to import, in this agricultural campaign, harvests of up to one million tons. Until recently, Ukraine and Russia were Morocco’s main exporters of imported barley, before France and the UK compensated them by exporting barley to help “fill the gap” left by the ongoing war.