Dates have always been an integral part of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, as the fast is traditionally broken with the fruit. In keeping with this, the NaraFood company offers a wide variety of organic dates from around the world. To showcase more specialist varieties from countries such as Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Jordan, etc., two tasting packs of 100 grams each are being marketed. "The second tasting pack contains only the finest dates from Saudi Arabia," Georg Huber, managing director of the NaraFood company, tells us.
Celine Wolfarth and Georg Huber at Biofach 2023
Main varieties: medjool, sukkari, ajwa and kholas
"For the past three years, the Sukkari variety has been establishing itself more and more in Europe alongside the main varieties, followed by the Ajwa, which is the 'sacred date' from Medina used, among other things, to break the traditional Ramadan fast. Another variety that is very similar to the sukkari is the kholas. The flavor is also caramel and even carries some toffee notes."
He says it's also important to him to offer the original variety of medjool. "In some countries, you find slightly genetically modified dates - similar to the production of certain tomatoes - to breed different flavors. Meanwhile, Moroccan, Saudi and Iranian Medjool dates still carry the original flavor. But that's in no way to say that certain varieties are better than others." Huber explains that Saudi and Iranian dates have a different texture after three to four months and begin to sugar up, while the modified varieties from Jordan and Israel are available year-round and also have a longer shelf life.
Prices adjusted slightly upward
"We had to raise our prices slightly. However, we were only able to pass on around 20 percent of the additional costs incurred. We had to bear the rest of the costs ourselves, accepting that our own profits were minimized. Saudi goods in particular were affected by this. This is due to the fact that the Saudi riyal has appreciated by 20 percent, while transportation costs have risen immensely. After all, our goods are delivered exclusively in the largest containers available."
He added that it was also noticeable that many customers were now buying larger quantities. "The standard sizes in which dates are marketed are 300 to 400 g for us. For some time now, however, customers have been buying between 1 and 3 kg, as the price per kilo for the larger quantities costs less on average. Date lovers in particular are very much turning to this product."
Annual increase in sales during Ramadan
The product is primarily marketed to organic wholesalers, although food retailers are also showing steadily increasing interest in the dates. "The inhibition of retail food stores to offer new dates has been overcome for some time. This is due in no small part to the high demand from consumers." At present, Muslim customers in particular are showing a high level of interest in dates from NaraFood.
"Ramadan brings us more sales every year. Thanks to our increasing level of awareness, as well as due to the good quality we distribute, many Muslim customers buy from us or are guided by which stores our products can be purchased in," Huber said. While Germany is its main market, ten percent of sales can be generated in France, 15 percent in Switzerland, a little six to seven percent in Austria, and smaller shares in Belgium.
High media interest
"The Nara brand stands out. We were recently interviewed for the show 'Galileo' on ProSieben, among others. This enabled us to reach an enormous number of new customers who previously had rather little contact with organic dates. To promote the products properly, you simply have to take enough time and have patience."
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