Supplies of dates out of California are steady.
“We’ve had strong supplies throughout the whole season. And the quality is very nice right now. We have lots of big jumbo high-quality dates,” says Ben Antongiovanni of Pure Palm Produce based in Bakersfield, Ca. “We don’t foresee any shortage for the rest of the season.”
In fact, Pure Palm, which supplies dates year-round following harvest in September-October, has increased its date volume this year by 15 percent over last year. “Supplies are about the same as last year at this point. We’ve also seen sales increases of about 10-15 percent,” says Antongiovanni. Those additional sales are a result of Pure Palm supporting the category more through initiatives such as promotions with retail partners. “There’s also a lot of organic growth in the date industry right now,” Antongiovanni says.
That growth is also coming from the commodity becoming more and more of an everyday mainstream item, says Antongiovanni. “There are tremendous health benefits in dates and consumers are realizing those benefits and starting to use dates as a sugar substitute too to get away from processed sugars,” says Antongiovanni. “While the biggest use for dates is snacking on them, that’s probably followed up by putting them in recipes such as smoothies.”
April sales growth
And this spring, helping that growth will likely be increased sales in April. “We’re excited for April this year because Easter takes place April 12th and then Ramadan is a peak time for date sales begins April 23,” he says. “Also, Passover will see a bump in sales of our Kosher for Passover-certified dates. With these three holidays close together, sales should see some exceptional spikes.”
Competing with California dates are Medjool dates from Israel, though product from Israel tends to move towards the Northeast and in Canada.
All of this leaves pricing similar to last year at this time. “Pricing has been pretty steady for the past couple of years. There’s not much change throughout the season,” says Antongiovanni.