"The date market is currently a little saturated," begins Mustapha Chihabi of Tomoor in Belgium. "That's thanks to the events and hospitality sectors being on hold. There's a good demand for dates. But we miss the hospitality industry as a sales channel. That's had an effect. Some countries are, unfortunately, suffering greatly from this."
"However, more and more countries are now relaxing their COVID-19 rules. Eateries are allowed to open their doors again. That will boost the date market. The dates and date products we have available come mainly from Saudi Arabia. We also recently signed a contract with an agricultural cooperative in the Palestinian territories. It will supply us with premium quality Medjoul dates."
It's Ramadan at the moment - an important month for date consumption. "Orders have been coming in from all over since February already. This year, for the first time, we exported shipments from the port of Antwerp to West Africa. That's a totally new market for us. This is a great date demand development. The demand for different varieties is growing too. There's a definite increase in the demand for Saudi dates and varieties. Four years ago, these dates weren't very well known. But in recent years, the demand for them has increased significantly," Mustapha says.
“The date assortment in stores is also noticeably expanding. There used to be only one variety available. Nowadays, stores fill entire racks with dates in all shapes and sizes. Date powder, which we introduced to the market, is also selling well."
"It's an ideal product to sweeten dishes. It's much healthier than sugar too," explains Mustapha. "People are buying more consciously and healthily. And dates and date powder fit in perfectly with that."
"Saudi date exports have increased dramatically in recent years. In 2019, it rose by 88%. Many young, start-up companies have discovered this wealth. They're now also selling Saudi dates through various channels in countries like the Netherlands. We're quite proud that we were the first to start this trend four years ago," concludes Mustapha.