Tunisia’s fruit exports increased by 65% in volume to 46,500mt and 78% in value to 134 million dinars (USD 43.59 million) in 2021 compared to 2020. Libya accounted for most of the Tunisian fruit exports, importing 39,800mt (82%), followed by Italy at 3,800mt and the UAE and France each with 1,100mt. Pomegranates and watermelons were Tunisia’s most exported fruits during 2021, with volumes exceeding 12,000mt each, followed by peaches with 9,200mt.
Tunisia’s fruit exports continued to climb at the start of 2022, increasing by 25% to 55.9 million dinars (USD 18.19 million) from the beginning of the year until June 10. The export volume also increased by 12% from 14,076mt in 2021 compared to 15,763mt during the same period in 2022. Libya remained the largest mark for Tunisia’s fruit exports, with a value of 6.8 million dinars, followed by Italy, with 5 million dinars, the UAE, with a value of more than 500,000 dinars, and France with 396,000 dinars. Kuwait rounded out the top 5 with 297,000 dinars.
Tunisia’s exports increased despite a governmentally instituted export ban on fruit and vegetables in April 2022. The rationale for the export ban was to mitigate domestic supply shortages and reduce prices after record price levels were recorded at the commencement of Ramadan. Ramadan is a high consumption month for fresh fruit and vegetables across the Muslim world. Libya is expected to bear the brunt of the export ban as the value of Tunisia's exports of fresh vegetables reached a value of USD 39.9 million in 2021, accounting for 60% of total exports.
The Libyan Ministry of Economy and Trade requested Tunisia to exempt them from the decision to ban the export of fruit and vegetables to avoid an economic crisis, especially with the increasing demand during Ramadan. In response, The Tunisian Union of Agriculture and Fisheries (UTAP) granted an exemption to fruit and vegetable exports destined for Libya, allowing companies under contract with Libyan clients to continue trading. The exemption extended to Libya lessened the impact of the export ban and allowed fruit exports to still climb during the first five months of the year.