Supplies of dates look to be similar to last year at this time.
“We’re about 98 percent finished harvesting our Medjool dates,” says Bob Harrick of Woodspur Farms in Coachella, CA. “We’re still harvesting our Delgets and we also have 14 other exotic varieties that we’re harvesting. We may be doing that for another three weeks.” For Woodspur Farms, this year’s harvest ran slightly later than normal though Harrick notes that in some other areas, harvest may have actually been ahead of schedule.
Overall the Medjool crop looks to be similar in size to the 2020-2021 crop. “Delgets are also relatively the same--maybe a little smaller. It may have something to do with the extreme heat that we had for such a long time. We typically don’t experience that as far as sizing,” says Harrick.
As for demand, Harrick says because Woodspur is approximately 97 percent organic, it continues to see growth in demand. “For the overall industry though, the biggest issue is import dates coming in. The industry would see a continued steady increase in demand would it not be for the continual growth of imported dates,” he says. On imports, while Medjool dates come from largely Israel, Delgets hail from Tunisia and Algeria.
On pricing, Harrick says Woodspur has no choice but to raise pricing somewhat because of input cost increases such as labor, COVID protective measures and more. “It’s a fine line. We need to increase prices but at the same time we have to fight the price of imported dates which are obviously less expensive than domestic dates so that’s a challenge as well,” he says.
Looking ahead, shortly after the New Year Harrick notes that preparations for Ramadan, a holiday that largely features dates in its celebrations, will begin early in the first quarter given that Ramadan has moved up this year to the first week of April.