Dates sales usually peak significantly during Ramadan. "That always happens in the week before Ramadan. But Medjool dates are still selling well," says Dirk Jan van Dijk of Palm Fruits in the Netherlands. "Our strength is that we always have product in stock, despite the delays. So we have enough for Ramadan too."
Palm Fruits works with the largest date grower cooperatives in the world for this. It, therefore, has access to more than 19 million Israeli dates. Dates from that country make up about 20% of the global production. "We're a one-stop-shop for dates. We have different types of qualities, packaging, and varieties. So, we have a suitable offer for every customer. This year we introduced our La Palma brand consumer packaging. And it's very popular on the market."
"More and more buyers know where to find us. We've grown considerably in recent years. Now with Ramadan, ethnic clients are our biggest customer base. These are in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and Scandinavia. The supermarket channel is participating well too. It's good that these stores are increasingly catering to Ramadan. Also, dates are being placed more in the fruit and vegetable aisle rather than with nuts. That's a welcome development," says Dirk Jan.
"Even outside of Ramadan, Medjool date consumption is rising. Westerners are starting to appreciate how healthy dates are. More and more people will grab a few dates as a sweet treat instead of a chocolate bar. Also, sugar-rich dates are generally much healthier to eat after exercise than an energy bar."
"This year's harvest was good. There are just fewer premium dates available. In fact, Super Jumbo Premium dates were completely sold out in Israel. The harvested dates may be a bit smaller but are of good quality," Van Dijk explains. "Price-wise, it was a more difficult year. Dates were sometimes selling at what I consider unnecessarily low prices. Fortunately, connoisseurs do consider the price-quality ratio."
"We're now hard at work preparing for the new season," he says. Dates are usually harvested in August. The growers freeze them onsite directly after being harvested. That's to keep the dates fresh. They're sent to Europe by sea. "We're expecting substantial volumes again. Any which way, our clients always get the dates they want," concludes Dirk Jan.