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Dates: positive outlook for the new season

October 25, 2023 at 4:07 PM , Der AUDITOR
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TEHERAN/CAIRO. Growers in important origins such as Iran, Morocco and Turkey are optimistic about the new season, as the crops have turned out well and are convincing with their quality. In addition, big plans are being made for the future.

Larger crop in Iran

As an Iranian exporter tells FreshPlaza, the date harvest in Iran is progressing with great strides. As conditions are good, market players here are expecting a larger crop than last year. Weather conditions have been generally conducive, though challenges such as water scarcity and pest infestation are still present. According to the latest data from Iran's Ministry of Agriculture, date production in Iran will reach around 1.5 million mt in 2023, up 10% year-on-year. A larger cultivated area and improved management of plantations are starting to show results, the expert told FreshPlaza. The most popular variety among Iranian dates remains Mazafati, which is appreciated by consumers for its mild taste and soft texture. Zahedi and Shahani dates are also popular. Dates are exported mainly to target countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, India, Iraq and Turkey, while exports to the EU and the USA are difficult.

Morocco has big goals

Market players from Morocco also report a good harvest progress so far. Harvesting has been going on for almost two months now, and a Moroccan date exporter reports that he expects a positive season. He tells FreshPlaza that all steps from pollination to thinning and the current harvesting process have gone smoothly and the first dates harvested are of good quality. As the date palms mature, the production volume also increases: in 2022, for example, about 700 mt of Medjool dates were harvested; this year, the growers already expect 1,500 mt. And the goals are ambitious: In the next few years, Moroccan Medjool date production is to be increased to up to 25,000 mt. With appropriate marketing strategies, Morocco should then increasingly become the focus of buyers on the world market.

Yield losses made up in Egypt

Meanwhile, in Egypt, the harvest of Medjool dates has been completed and the harvest of the Barhi variety is also coming to an end. An Egyptian exporter told FreshPlaza that no major complications were encountered. The country had to contend with severe sandstorms and plant health issues at the beginning of the year, so a drop in production was initially expected; however, the increased acreage seems to have largely offset this. According to the FAO, Egypt is the largest date-growing country in the world, with 1.7 million mt harvested in 2021. The government is even planning to double the area under cultivation within the next five years, as date cultivation occupies a special position in the North African country. The high nutrient content makes Barhi dates particularly popular.

Germany's imports slightly down

German date imports show a slight year-on-year decline. In total, the country imported 26,566 mt in the period September 2022 to August 2023, 2% less than in the same period last year. The most important supplier remains Tunisia, which was able to increase its exports to Germany by almost 19%. This contrasts with Pakistan, which ranks second among the most important suppliers; here, deliveries fell by almost a quarter. Imports from Algeria (-62.5%) and Saudi Arabia (-71.3%) also fell sharply, while Israel exported almost 50% more dates to Germany.

Date* imports, Germany, in mt

Supplier

2021/22

2022/23

Diff.

Tunisia

12,258

14,550

18.7%

Pakistan

3,292

2,471

-24.9%

Iran

2,321

2,371

2.2%

Israel

1,194

1,780

49.1%

France

943

1,007

6.8%

Algeria

2,557

960

-62.5%

UAE

602

819

36.0%

Netherlands

483

486

0.6%

Turkey

406

417

2.7%

Saudi Arabia

914

262

-71.3%

Others

2,132

1,443

-32.3%

Total

27,102

26,566

-2.0%

Federal Statistical Office of Germany / Sep-Aug

*08041000 Fresh or dried dates

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