According to the US Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service1 in 2017, Quick Serve Restaurants such as McDonald’s, Burger King, and KFC now have a strong presence in major cities such as Casablanca and Marrakesh. French and Spanish eateries remain popular, with catering peaks between May to August. Food service companies in Singapore may find new opportunities in the major cities, where residents have the income to support a growing restaurant scene.
The Morocco FoodExpo 2019, a food and hospitality event is also a potential platform for Singapore agriculture and food manufacturing companies to meet partners, buyers and investors in the region.
Agriculture is a major contributor to Morocco’s overall economy, contributing some 15% of GDP2. About 40% of the county’s workforce is employed in agriculture, and it accounts for about 10% of the country’s overall exports. However, the country faces challenges with drought and soil degradation - Singapore companies with the expertise to handle these issues are likely to find high demand.
1 USDA Foreign Agriculture Service GAIN report 2017, GAIN report number MO1715
2 Oxford Business Group, The Report: Morocco 2018
The lifestyle shifts, increased consumption and spending of Moroccans have helped to create a thriving food sector in Morocco.
With rising urbanisation and a more hectic pace of life, consumers are now demanding for more convenient, yet healthier, food options. This has translated to increased acceptance of ready-to-eat meals and growing popularity of packaged and processed food, which are at the same time, high in nutritional and sensorial qualities.
Modern grocery distribution channels are also expanding in Morocco. By 2025, large supermarkets and hypermarkets could account for as much as 30% of food retailing in Morocco3. On the other end, online retailing is also seeing some growth as digitally-savvy consumers turn to e-retailers to order and purchase their food products. Singapore F&B companies and food manufacturers can leverage opportunities in these areas to capture a slice of the market.
3 Oxford Business Group, Rising incomes encouraging retailers in Morocco to expand online and outside major cities
There are various opportunities in the infrastructure and real estate sectors for Singaporean businesses as urbanisation takes place in Morocco. The Moroccan government has been investing billions in the country’s transport and energy infrastructure over the years, with several mega projects emerging.
These mega projects include Ouarzazate Solar Power Station, the world’s largest solar plant, and Al-Boraq, a high-speed rail service that currently runs between Casablanca and Tangier. Both projects are slated for further expansion.
Other projects include further improving the internal and external connectivity of Morocco – including the expansion of Morocco’s road networks, construction of Casablanca’s second tramline (with potential plans to increase the tram network to up to seven lines) and further development of the Kingdom’s port infrastructure.
Beyond infrastructure, the government has also been focusing on real estate development, to meet the housing needs of its growing city population and address the housing deficit challenge.
Marrakesh, in particular, is seeing a high-end construction boom. In 2018, a US$100 million (S$135.6 million) project—M Avenue—saw the development of nearly 108,000 square feet of gardens and landscaped areas alongside 183,000 square feet of shops, restaurants, cafes, galleries and hotels—including names such as Pestana and the Four Seasons4.
Singapore businesses in real estate development can find good investment prospects in Morocco today. The growth of high-end resorts and hotels also signal opportunities for service providers, who will likely see demand for their expertise as more of such projects are completed.
4 Building boom lures visitors to Morocco's 'Red City', Business Times, 20th August 2018
The retail sector in Morocco is flourishing thanks to the rising affluence of Moroccan consumers. This sector is estimated to account for 12% of Morocco’s gross domestic product (GDP), and hires around 13% of Morocco’s labour force.
According to World Bank figures, GDP per capita has risen from US$1,322 (S$1,793) to US$2,883 (S$3,909) between 2000 and 20165. The increase in consumers’ disposable incomes drives demand for international lifestyle and clothing brands, and F&B chains. In 2017, AT Kearney’s Global Retail Development Index ranked Morocco seventh out of 30 countries in attractiveness for retail development. Just the year before, the country was in 14th place.
Notably, increased internet penetration has also contributed to the growth of online shopping, a key lever for the sector’s growth. Under the Department of Trade and Industry’s Rawaj Vision 2020 plan, the government seeks to modernise the retail segment, with the goal of increasing the sector’s contribution to GDP to 15% by 20206. This makes it a prime opportunity for Singapore companies strong in e-commerce to share their know-how with merchants in Morocco.
Along with the rise of e-commerce, modern electronic payment systems have also expanded. About 11 million bank cards were issued in 2015, and numbers are expected to grow by 11% per year from 2015 to 2020. This suggests a potential rise in digital transactions, which Singapore’s fintech and financial services companies may be in good position to provide services on.
5 Oxford Business Group, Rising incomes encouraging retailers in Morocco to expand online and outside major cities, 2018
6 Oxford Business Group, Morocco’s retail sector driven by urbanisation and rising household consumption