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Dates: climate change has a strong impact

August 23, 2023 at 12:22 PM , Der AUDITOR
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CAIRO/AMMAN. High temperatures are affecting date production in both Jordan and Egypt, albeit to different degrees. Israel, meanwhile, has high hopes for exports to China.

Smaller crop in Jordan

According to FreshPlaza experts, unfavourable weather conditions in Jordan have had a negative impact on Medjool date production. Among other things, late winters and increasingly high temperatures in summer have already caused crop volumes to decline in recent years; while 27,000 mt of Medjool dates were produced in Jordan in 2021, the figure was only 20,000 mt in 2022, and this year production is expected to decline even further, according to the Ministry of Agriculture. The quality of Jordanian dates remains high and very competitive on the world market, especially for the popular premium varieties. One market player told FreshPlaza that losses this year are around 10-15% compared to last year, and large dates in particular are scarce. Demand remains good, with major buyers of Jordanian dates including the Gulf countries and Turkey. Demand from India, East Asia and Europe, however, is weaker than in recent years.

Early harvest start in Egypt

The climatic changes are also making themselves felt in Egypt. A producer of Egyptian Medjool dates tells FreshPlaza that this year the harvest has started ten days earlier than usual and will be completed by mid-September. Sorting, grading and packing is already taking place from the first week of September in preparation for exports. Overall, the crop prospects are good, although growers in Egypt have also had to contend with adverse weather conditions; for example, a massive sandstorm in June interrupted work in the plantations. Here, too, there are hardly any large dates, but the quality is convincing and demand from Egypt and overseas is very satisfactory. Competition in the country is becoming tougher, however, as the good sales of Egyptian Medjool dates are increasingly attracting new market players.

Hope in Israel

The prospects for Israeli date farmers are encouraging this year, as the Israeli news site Ynet News reports. After two difficult years that saw heavy losses, new markets are now opening up, and exporting their dates to China in particular is opening up whole new opportunities. In recent years, a surplus on the market, weak demand and a lack of labour had posed major challenges for growers, and some plantations had also been struggling with severe pest infestations. The new opportunities now look like a silver lining. According to Ynet News, there are about 600 date farmers in Israel and crop estimates for 2023 are around 50,000 mt. According to Amnon Grinberg, chairman of the Israeli Plant Council, the new season will start without any carry-over stocks. The new crop should convince with a high quality and an aggressive marketing campaign should ensure the corresponding sales.

German imports down

German date imports fell by more than 10% year-on-year in the period September 2022 to June 2023. The most important supplier is Tunisia with 13,104 mt, followed by Pakistan and Iran. Israel was able to increase its exports to Germany by an impressive 58.8%, while imports from Algeria and Saudi Arabia fell significantly. In total, Germany imported 24,213 mt of dates in the period mentioned.

Date* imports, Germany, in mt

Supplier

2021/22

2022/23

Diff.

Tunisia

11,004

13,104

19.1%

Pakistan

3,160

2,255

-28.6%

Iran

2,207

2,231

1.1%

Israel

1,053

1,672

58.8%

Algeria

2,264

906

-60.0%

France

825

853

3.4%

UAE

517

749

44.9%

Netherlands

449

444

-1.1%

Turkey

331

378

14.2%

Saudi Arabia

910

259

-71.5%

Others

4,404

1,362

-69.1%

Total

27,124

24,213

-10.7%

Federal Statistical Office of Germany / Sep-Jun

*08041000 Fresh or dried dates

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