Saudi Arabia and the UAE are expanding their palm-groves, which can turn them into serious rivals to Iran’s international date market share, according to the chairman of National Association of Iranian Dates.
“At present, our production surpasses theirs by only 50,000 tons to 100,000 tons per year. This calls for prompt action on the part of Iranian producers and traders active in the field to upgrade our marketing methods and promote the delectable Iranian dates,” Mohsen Rashid Farrokhi was also quoted as saying by ILNA.
The official said Afghanistan is also planning to replace part of its opium poppy cultivation with date palms, adding that because of the country’s location, there is only little land where palm-groves could be established and therefore the harvest will also be relatively meager, which cannot compete with Iranian dates in foreign markets.
Zahra Jalili Moqaddam, an Agriculture Ministry official, said Iran is the world’s second biggest producer of dates after Egypt with an annual production of around 1.2 million tons. The figure, she added, accounts for 10% of the global output.
There are a dozen types of dates produced in Iran. Rashid Farrokhi says Iran exports around 20% of its overall production. Countries in North America, the European Union, Russia, India and China are the main destinations for Iranian dates.
Per capita date consumption in Iran is 3 kilograms per year. Dates are mainly produced in six Iranian provinces, namely Kerman, Sistan-Baluchestan, Khuzestan, Hormozgan, Bushehr and Fars. This year's production mainly came from Kerman, Sistan-Baluchestan and Khuzestan, together accounting for 800,000 tons of the total output (70%).