Date shippers focus on innovation and sustainability
The North American date industry is gearing up for the 2023 season, with a focus on quality, sustainability and innovation. Key players in this sector are leading the charge with their commitment to these common themes.
Weather has been on everyone’s mind, with particular focus on the impact of Hurricane Hillary, and a second, surprise rain event which followed.
Hope Barbee, vice president of sales at Double Date Packing, provided insight. “The valley received a lot of rain recently. Fortunately, behind the rain was a lot of wind which dried out the date bunches quickly,” she said optimistically. “So far the Medjool dates are looking very good. We have our fingers crossed.”
“The dates were at a stage of ripeness where they could weather that rain a little better than in a typical year when we would have been more on top of harvest,” added DJ Ryan sales and operations manager at SunDate. Reports from the field paint a positive picture, with indications of a good-quality crop.
Organic dates continue to see increased demand and the industry is meeting the challenge with new plantings and by transitioning older date gardens.
For example, roughly 75 percent of SunDate’s 2023 crop is USDA certified organic. Domestic consumers drive most of this demand in addition to many overseas markets showing increased interest.
This fits into a larger trend, emphasizing sustainability and responsible practices. Drip irrigation is common, ensuring efficient water use and minimizing environmental impact. Double Date has taken this commitment one step farther and harnesses clean energy with solar panels on the roofs of their facilities.
As in all industries, innovation is key and date shippers are ready to deliver. Double Date has introduced innovative packaging for the season. “We are thrilled to introduce our 12-ounce pit-free pouch bag and pit-free multipack packaging to the market,” said Corey Torczon. “These packages play a crucial role in enhancing the overall customer experience with our Medjool dates.”
Bard Valley Natural Delights, known for pushing the boundaries of product development, recently launched Medjool Date Strips with Tajin Chili Lime Seasoning. This unique combination of flavors caters to evolving consumer preferences, showcasing the brand’s ability to stay ahead of the curve in the industry. “We were always looking for exciting ways to captivate and delight our consumers,” said Bridgette Weber, trade marketing manager for Bard Valley. “Our Medjool Date Strips with Tajin Chili Lime Seasoning are just one example of our dedication to innovation. It is a taste sensation that is truly unmatched.”
As the 2023 date season unfolds, industry leaders are demonstrating a commitment to delivering quality products while addressing sustainability and evolving consumer preferences, ensuring a prosperous future for the industry. Quality, sustainability and innovation are driving the industry forward as it continues to adapt to changing demands and environmental challenges.