By Mustapha El Khayat, professor and international expert in transport and logistics, and chairman of the Moroccan Logistics Association. (Photo N.B.C)
In Morocco's fruit and vegetables sector, pooling is more commercial and managerial than logistical. Pool operators do not yet have a full legal status, but a few well-organised structures share transport costs and negotiate contracts.
Some operators in the Moroccan fruit and vegetables sector - manufacturers, exporters and packaging manufacturers and stations - got together in the 1980s in order to face up to the challenge of competition. The fast-growing Souss-Massa-Drâa region was a case in point.
The closure of the Trade and Export Office (OCE) in 1986 brought about the need to create new structures to support manufacturers, particularly exporters, in their commercial activities. Individually, they are not able to provide international logistics services, especially to far-off destinations such as Russia and North America. It was therefore necessary to create structures that could solve packaging problems or low ship load/capacity ratios
Maroc Fruit Board and Fresh Fruit Morocco
Supply chain operators got together to overcome these constraints through several initiatives, whether in the form of cooperatives (as in the case of packaging stations) or pools/federations. The two biggest groups of exporters, Maroc Fruit Board (MFB) and Fresh Fruit Morocco (FFM), account for around 95% of the country's citrus fruit exports between them (70% and 25% respectively).
MFB, for example, sells Moroccan fruit directly in eastern Europe (Lithuania and Russia), North America, Scandinavia and the Middle East on behalf of its members. It also takes care of maritime logistics, i.e. planning capacity and reserving containers directly with the shipping companies.
As fruit and vegetables are perishable, it is hard for individual producers to independently manage their logistics (high storage and packaging station costs, refrigerated containers, temperature-controlled road and sea transportation, etc.).
It therefore makes sense to share the risk by forming a cooperative structure to manage their combined logistical needs.
The transport methods used by these pools vary according to the distribution chains of their customers, product availability and strategic parameters that allow them to optimise logistics costs and performance.
For example, MFB's exports by transport method break down as follows: 45% by conventional shipping reefer, 40% by refrigerated container and 15% by refrigerated lorry.
The group operates out of Morocco's three main citrus fruit export ports: Casablanca, Agadir and Nador.
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