Sales by Morocco’s poultry and egg producers were worth 6 percent less in 2014, continuing the decline recorded in 2013. Industry association FISA Maroc, notes that the sector was worth MAD 27.9 billion (US$2.92 billion) last year.
Despite this decrease in value, output was higher. 2014 saw poultry meat production stand at 456,000 tons, compared to 420,000 tons in 2013, while egg production rose from 4.5 billion to 5 billion.
Production of poultry meat in Morocco has grown by an annual average of 7.4 percent per annum over the last three decades, while the country’s output of eggs has recorded an annual increase of 6 percent. However, recent years have seen the industry having to confront not only higher input costs, but a general decline in sale prices. Demand for poultry products had weakened, and producers have failed to cut back production.
While modern poultry farming can be said to have started in Morocco back in 1958 with the opening of the first hatchery in the country, and the sector has experienced a significant growth rate over the last few decades, there remains room for modernization in the country.
Marketing and distribution channels, for example, remain fairly basic, and over 90 percent of chickens are sold through small retailers. These retailers purchase from either the wholesale market or directly from farms, depending on region.
Integrated production has been slow to take hold in Morocco, although little by little, the country’s smaller agricultural producers are disappearing in favor of larger producers. Production has risen, but the sector remains fragmented, and there is a lack of small, well equipped slaughter facilities.
Of Morocco’s industrial poultry processing plants, five have cut up facilities, three are used for the production of mechanically separated meat (MSM) and three are used for the production of frozen meat.
Industry is trying to boost consumption while at the same time keeping prices down, and for this to occur, distribution channels need to be modernized.
Amongst initiatives currently underway is a Contract-Program, which was signed in 2011 and runs to 2020. The joint initiative, between the government, Credit Agricole of Morocco and FISA, will tackle certain poultry health issues as well as the marketing of poultry products, amongst other areas.
Poultry meat consumption
Consumption of poultry meat from both traditionally reared birds and those produced using modern facilities has risen significantly in Morocco. In 1970, per capita poultry meat consumption stood at 2.3 kg per annum, but by 2014, this had risen to nearly 17 kg. Although poultry meat now accounts for 52 percent of total meat consumed in the country, consumption is low when compared to other countries with a similar level of development.
Cuts are sold through supermarkets or used in catering establishments. Remaining parts are used for the production of MSM, for which there is a strong demand in Morocco, particularly from charcuterie producers.
The delicatessen sector has been an important driver in Moroccan poultry production as, with changing lifestyles, Moroccans are increasingly demanding ready to eat products. The low cost of chicken mortadella, for example, makes it accessible to a wide range of consumers. There are currently 25 licensed chicken mortadella producers in the country with an average capacity ranging from 30 to 100 tons per month.
Egg sector in crisis
As with consumption of broiler meat, a similar increase has occurred in egg consumption in Morocco, with consumption rising from 21 to 168 eggs per person between 1970 and 2014. Since the beginning of 2013, however, the Moroccan table egg industry has been in crisis, with prices falling below the cost of production.
There was a short recovery in prices in June - the month before Ramadan - last year, but this was short-lived, and, for the year as a whole prices dropped by 16 percent in 2014.
Producers had been hoping that Ramadam, usually characterized by up an upturn in demand for eggs and higher prices, would offset the lower prices and financial losses recorded in previous months. However, high supply levels and the plentiful supply of fruit and vegetables at low prices meant that this did not occur.
While poultry production is spread across the country, it is nevertheless influenced by Morocco’s climate and population concentration. Modern farms tend to be concentrated along the Atlantic coast, where the climate is more favorable and the major centers of Casablanca and Rabat are situated.
By volume of production, 48 percent of the country’s broiler hatcheries and 75 percent of its egg hatcheries are located between Kenitra and El Jadida, along with 73 percent of the country’s table egg farms, 42 percent of broiler farms and 91 percent of turkey farms.