Commodity: Dates

Commodity Overview

Dates are the dark brown berries of the date palm tree that can be harvested individually or on the vine. The sweet fruit is known for its caramel-honey flavor. Large Medjool dates can be stuffed with nuts or cheeses. Any variety can be eaten raw or cooked, and the fruit is often used as a sweet filling for baked goods like muffins, cookies and cakes. Fresh dates are a small part of the produce mix, but their contribution is growing. Marketing dates to consumers who may not be familiar with them can help boost your bottom line. Dates are available year-round from California.

Varieties

Dates come in many varieties, including the Medjool, a cultivar known for its large fruit.

Facts

  • Fresh dates offer a variety of health benefits. They are a good source of potassium, which can help lower blood pressure. Dates contribute fiber to the diet, which can aid in digestion. Dates have been shown to help prevent abdominal cancer. They also contain vitamins and minerals that can help strengthen bones.
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the following nutrient content descriptors for dates: fat-free, saturated fat-free, sodium-free, cholesterol-free and a good source of fiber.

Sales Strategies

  • Dates are most often used as an ingredient, which opens up a host of cross-merchandising opportunities, including baking items, bagged salads, seafood and poultry.
  • Dates are available year-round and can add dollars to the bottom line in any season.
    • Fall: Include fresh dates in back-to-school promotions as they make a tasty treat for any lunch box.
    • Winter: The winter holidays are the time consumers may associate with dates. Promote them heavily as part of holiday baking displays.
    • Spring: Dates can be an integral part of springtime salads. Promote them as a way to add variety and flavor to green salads.
    • Summer: Dates are a flavorful, easy-to-carry snack for on-the-go families during the summer. Encourage consumers to take dates with them on their summertime outings and vacations.
  • Fresh dates make a tasty and healthy snack. Offer consumers a chance to taste fresh dates and to learn how to pit a date by offering samples.

Dynamic Displays

  • Dates come in several varieties, and each variety has its own look and flavor. Provide plenty of information about each variety and use the different colors from yellow to dark brown to create an attractive display.
  • Avoid misting dates, but group them near salad or cooking vegetables. Include dried dates on your display as consumers may be more familiar with dried dates than they are with fresh ones. Group fresh dates and figs together.
  • Make sure consumers know that dates are a natural sweetener and can be used to add moisture to baked goods.
  • Increasing space for your date display will boost sales, according to the California Date Administrative Committee.

Food Service

  • Add dates to baked goods like cookies, muffins and breads.
  • Sprinkle chopped dates on salads for an interesting look and unique flavor.
  • Add chopped dates to yogurt breakfast bars.
  • Include dates in poultry stuffing and pasta salad.
  • Use dates in sauces or toppings for seafood dishes.
  • Dates can be used in any recipe that calls for raisins.

In The Backroom

Shipping

Shipping

Containers for dates vary. California shipments are measured by the California Date Administrative Committee.

Plastic containers other than bags must meet the following requirements:

Whole dates sold in plastic cups must have a net weight of 8 oz., 12 oz., 11⁄2 lbs. or 2 or more pounds.

Pitted dates sold in plastic cups must have net weight of 7 oz., 10 oz., 1 lb., 11⁄2 lbs. or more than 2 lbs., not sold limited by container weights.

The date industry produces a variety of products for use in baking and institutional foodservice.

RPC 6411, 6413

 

Handling

Temperature: semi-dry, 32 to 40 F, 0 to 4.4 C; soft, 0 to 32 F, -17.8 to 0 C

Relative humidity: 75-80%

Mist: none

Typical shelf life: one month at room temperature, six to eight months refrigerated and one year frozen in airtight containers.

Odor sensitive. Dates will absorb odors produced by other fruits and vegetables. Do not store near onions.

Medjools should be treated more like fresh produce rather than a dried fruit.

Moisture loss can be regained by pumping dates with warm water, fruit juice or liqueur.

 

Grades

Domestic whole and pitted (consumer grade)

U.S. Grade B

Deglet noor, halawy, khadrawy and zahidi dates

U.S. Grade C available in various forms (industrial grade)

Medjools are available in jumbos, mixed and confection grades.

Handling

Temperature: semi-dry, 32 to 40 F, 0 to 4.4 C; soft, 0 to 32 F, -17.8 to 0 C

Relative humidity: 75-80%

Mist: none

Typical shelf life: one month at room temperature, six to eight months refrigerated and one year frozen in airtight containers.

Odor sensitive. Dates will absorb odors produced by other fruits and vegetables. Do not store near onions.

Medjools should be treated more like fresh produce rather than a dried fruit.

Moisture loss can be regained by pumping dates with warm water, fruit juice or liqueur.

Availability

Nutrition Labels

Equivalents

1 pound = 50 medium dates

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