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Yassine Fellah, Moroccan citrus exporter:

"The North American market rewards good quality citrus"

Moroccan citrus fruits enjoy a welcoming demand in North American markets, according to Mr. Yassine Fellah, CEO of Canmar Produce. The exporter sources Moroccan citrus fruits: lemons, oranges, clementines, and grapefruit, and in smaller volumes peppers and other seasonal fruits and vegetables.

On the key to Moroccan produce's success in the North American markets, Mr. Fellah explains: "The North American market rewards good quality both in the produce and professional interaction. It has cultural and commercial particularities that you have to adapt to, in terms of packaging and the way of doing business for example. If you understand the needs of the different customer profiles, the demand will automatically follow".

According to Mr. Fellah, demand is mainly focused on the festive calendars of the different ethnic markets and is highly dependent on quality, packaging, and customer service.

Canmar Produce hit its record volume of shipped containers last season, most of which were shipped to the U.S. and Canada, and to a lesser extent to China. "We are growing steadily. Despite the dramatic decline in domestic citrus volumes due to the drought, we expect to double our export volumes this year. Quite simply, we are a preferred intermediary for both Moroccan growers and our customers in North America". Mr. Fellah says he shipped more than half of its yearly average volume from December 2022 to January 2023.

The Moroccan citrus season has been hit hard by the persistent drought: "We are suffering like all Moroccan exporters from the effects of drought. The early varieties of clementines were down by 60%. Whereas the Nadorcotts are down by up to 50% in some regions in Morocco. We hope that nature will be more generous in the coming years and that our producers will be rewarded for their efforts."

Understanding the needs of demand, but also the needs of growers, is therefore, according to Mr. Fellah, the key to growth in times of crisis: "As promoters and quality assurers, our job is to connect the best growers with quality customers. Upstream, we offer our growers more generous margins and better payment terms than the competition. And for the customer, we offer and a large pool of different citrus varieties, adapted export schedules, and packaging. From a small store in an ethnic market to a large supermarket chain, we have the right product, in the right packaging, and the operation process. We are always available and we don't get tired of questions".

Canmar Produce has a presence in Morocco, the United States, and Canada: "I am personally present in the farms and packing house in Morocco, while my associate is there overseas. We have teams in the United States and Canada, which allows us to supervise each pallet at origin and destination."

On his development prospects, Mr. Fellah says he intends to approach the European market: "I come from a family that has been farming for 4 generations, our family name literally means "farmer" in Arabic, and I have made it my mission to promote Moroccan citrus in North America for the past 14 years, now it's time to expand to Europe. We already have a demand from Europe, but we are waiting to build the proper channels. This is the next step in our development."

For more information:
Mr. Yassine Fellah
Canmar Produce
Tel: +212 6 61 95 17 10

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