In mid-December last year, the European Court of Justice cancelled the partnership agreement between the EU and Morocco, specifically the part relating to trade in goods from occupied Western Sahara. Therefore, agricultural products can only benefit from the association agreement as long as there is clear evidence that they come from Morocco and not the former Spanish Sahara.
According to an investigation conducted by Supermacht.nl, the cherry tomatoes that were on the shelves of Albert Heijn in the months of February and March were produced in Western Sahara. Ahold (Albert Heijn) buys them from the Moroccan company Azura. This business group is one of the world’s leading private tomato producers.
Azura’s tomatoes are produced in Dakhla, Western Sahara. They are then transported 1,200 kilometres north, to the city of Agadir, where the packaging plants are located. That is where the tomatoes are packed and prepared for export. Distribution in northern Europe goes through Frulexxo, in Rotterdam.
When the supermarket was asked how it distinguished tomatoes from Morocco of those from Western Sahara, they simply replied that Ahold meets the legal labelling requirements, as the labels indicate the country of origin of the tomatoes. Despite this, the supermarket has been advised to conduct audits on the company Azura and visit its office in Dakhla, Western Sahara.
Publication date: 4/21/2016