Medjool dates are healthy and nutrient dense, containing 16 essential vitamins and minerals. However, in the United States date category penetration is low with only about 8.5 percent of US consumers eating dates. “Almost 92 percent don’t regularly buy dates,” says David Baxter with Bard Valley Natural Delights. In some parts of the world on the other hand, it is one of the most consumed fruits, especially popular during Ramadan. “That’s our biggest date season as Muslims around the world want to eat the best dates before sunrise when fast begins and as soon as the fast breaks after sundown.”
Innovation – Snack Packs
The demographic 55 years and older consistently buy dates and the category is growing for the demographic 25-44 years old. Apart from these age groups, penetration is low, offering a huge opportunity to grow the category. To get new people to try dates, Bard Valley Natural Delights has been focusing on innovation. “We’ve been introducing smaller size packages, providing people with a lower barrier to try a new product,” said Baxter.
A product that was recently introduced is Bard Valley’s Snack Pack. It’s a small box, containing three individually wrapped dates. It is a healthy food option compared to a candy bar or a bag of chips and with a suggested retail price of $1.99, Baxter is confident people will more easily try it compared to a clamshell full of dates. “Hopefully, once people have tried the snack packs, they will switch to larger volume boxes and continue to make repeat purchases,” he commented.
Another new product that is now hitting the market is Truffles, which are pieces of chopped Medjool dates covered in chocolate and available in three different flavors. The first is Dark Chocolate with Probiotic, focusing on increased health benefits. “This Truffles flavor contains enough probiotics to make the gut health claim,” commented Baxter. The second alternative is Chocolate Cherry and last but not least Chocolate Blueberry. “With Truffles, we’ve been trying to create innovation and entice new consumers in a unique way,” commented Baxter.
“By buying a healthy value-added product like this, we hope people will eventually ease into the date category as a whole.” In line with Bard Valley’s goal of offering a product that is more approachable, this is the first product that is exclusively launching in a pouch bag. “It is a better format for portability and supports the snacking nature of the product,” Baxter said. Despite the different packaging format, the product is still targeted to be merchandised in the produce section of the store.
Bard Valley Natural Delights has been working on the Truffle product for a while. Results from both consumer testing as well as retailers were favorable. Truffles will hit stores in the next two weeks, initially launching with Kroger for national distribution. Around August and September, the company hopes to expand Truffles with other retailers.
To request samples of Natural Delights Truffles, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.