Sponsored by Morocco Nadorcott Seedless, the London Produce Show opening cocktail reception on Wednesday June 7 is the largest annual social gathering in the UK’s fresh produce calendar. More than 750 industry professionals from around the world will network in the five-star deluxe setting of the balcony of the Great Room, at the Grosvenor House, a JW Marriott hotel on London’s Park Lane. Ahead of the event, PBUK catches up with Mohamed Benbiga, general secretary of the Moroccan Association of Nadorcott Producers (APNM), to find out more about the 2017 campaign for the citrus brand.
The Morocco Nadorcott Seedless label was implemented for the first time in the 2017 export campaign which was characterised by a 10% growth in export volumes, high quality with a low seed incidence, and an average Brix level of 14.2.
“This has been a great season – the external and internal quality of mandarins was remarkable,” hails Benbiga.
“Europe and the UK in particular are key markets for the Moroccan Nadorcott exporters. Exports to the British market are constantly increasing.”
In fact APNM commissioned an independent British consultancy during the last two campaigns, 2016 and 2017, to build what Benbiga describes as a “reliable, independent and quantitative database”.
“This allows us to identify the superiority of the Moroccan Nadorcott compared to the other competing varieties on the British market,” he adds.
“A comparative analysis was carried out throughout the marketing period of the Moroccan Nadorcott on all competing varieties available on British shelves. The analysis focused on juice content, brix, acidity, seeds, colour, smell, and taste.
“We are extremely pleased with the results of the study as it confirmed the quality and the superiority of the Moroccan Nadorcott in terms of taste, appearance and low seeds incidence.”
Having a strong presence at the London Produce Show and Conference is particularly important for the label this year as Morocco Nadorcott Seedless pushes ahead with its promotional campaign to “establish this label as a synonym of requirement, quality and confidence”, adds Benbiga.
“The London Produce Show is a great opportunity to showcase the Moroccan Nadorcott and the new quality label, Morocco Nadorcott Seedless. We are aiming to meet industry professionals including foodservice, wholesale buyers and retailers from the UK and other countries.
“It will be a valuable opportunity not only to present our product but also to share experiences and know-how in terms of production and marketing of fruits and vegetables.”
APNM on a mission
The APNM joins together all the Moroccan Nadorcott producers holding a production license, to preserve and promote the Nadorcott mandarin tree variety in the country.
Morocco Nadorcott Seedless are produced in isolated orchards, at least five kilometres away from other compatible citrus fruits. This isolation inhibits cross-pollination of the Nadorcott trees with other citrus fruits varieties and guarantees Nadorcott’s “self-sterility”, adds Benbiga.
And the label guarantees the “exceptional flavour” of the late season easy-peeler, as well as taste consistency and appearance, he says.
Moroccan production regions include Chichaoua, Marrakech, Souss, Gharb, Safi, Beni Mellal and Kelaa where orchards are controlled throughout the year and the production takes place from January to late April.
“Moroccan Nadorcott export volumes rose from 14,007 tonnes in 2007 to 125,000 tonnes in 2017,” adds Benbiga.
“In Great Britain, consumers can find the Moroccan Nadorcott in several food retailers and supermarkets including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons, Aldi, Waitrose, Marks & Spencer and Ocado.
“It’s available off the shelf from mid-January to mid-May each year.”
Deep-rooted Moroccan history
Initially discovered by researcher Nadori El Bachir in 1982, the Nadorcott mandarin tree comes from a research programme carried out by the National Institute of Agricultural Research (INRA) at the Afourer station in the Beni Mellal region of Morocco. Agri-business firm Les Domaines Agricoles also carried out extensive work over the years to confirm the self-sterility of this variety and planted it for the first time in 1990.
It’s the result of a natural hybridisation of the Murcott variety (mandarin tree), and the trade name Nadorcott comes from combining “Nadori” and “Murcott”.