Consumer Interest in Medjool Dates Increasing


In September, date growers in Coachella are expected to begin the fresh harvest. During the late spring and early summer, wind storms passed through the region, but growers have not reported any problems stemming from them. The crop will, however, be delayed because of the earlier weather issues back in May. Overall, reports indicate the crop is looking good, with some anticipating an increase in volume this year.

“The Coachella Medjool harvest typically starts the first week in September, but this year it has been delayed by 10-14 days due to cooler than normal weather in May,” said Robert Dobrzanski of Atlas Produce. “We will start shipping new crop dates by October 15 this year. All our dates are grown in Coachella and this year the crop is looking very nice. Sizing and quality are expected to be excellent also. For us, it seems the numbers will be up this year, thanks largely to new plantings.”

Increasing demand
As the fresh date harvest in California approaches, producers are preparing for another year along with new products and promotions. Consumers are increasingly turning to Medjool dates – “rediscovering them”, as it were – for health-focused foods, according to suppliers. As a result, companies like Atlas Produce are turning their attention more to branding and retail promotions.

“With the date deal, sales are increasing as people become more familiar with Medjool dates,” Dobrzanski observed. “It’s not just whole dates, with chopped dates performing very well also. Consumers are using them in cooking as well as smoothies for their nutritional value and properties as a sugar substitute. They really become a value-added product in that way.”

Atlas Produce also has date rolls available, which are seeing an increase in interest, according to Dobrzanski. “All the rolls we do are the best in the industry and consumer are seeing great value in them. Instead of purchasing trail bars, for example, they opt for the date rolls as they know dates are the main ingredient.”

Transition to Fresh Energy brand
As the consumer interest in Medjool dates increased, Atlas Produce decided to create a new brand for their Medjool date products. Called ‘Fresh Energy’, the brand is a reflection on consumer trends in the healthy foods arena, Dobrzanski said.

“A few years back, we changed our brand name to Fresh Energy, and have since enjoyed great momentum with our sales,” he shared. “This year, we have a lot of retail promotions planned for the Holidays, for retailers who want to capitalize on the Fresh Energy brand. Our date products are available year-round and retailers can contact us to see how carrying Medjool dates can be a good way to differentiate them from the competition.”

By Fresh Plaza