Economy, Business And Markets

Investment Opportunities in Date Seed Oil Extraction

Investment Opportunities in Date Seed Oil Extraction
Investment Opportunities in Date Seed Oil Extraction

Iran ranks among the top three date producing countries worldwide, with production exceeding 1 million tons per year. Different varieties of date fruit are grown in Khuzestan, Hormozgan, Bushehr, Fars, Kerman and Sistan-Baluchestan provinces.

Date seed, which constitutes 10-15% of the total weight of the ripe date, is often discarded as waste in date processing industries or used as animal feed despite its high nutritional value.

Date seed is composed of oil, protein and carbohydrate as well as several important minerals, namely potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, sodium and iron. Date seed is also a good source of dietary fiber, which can be further developed into new products.

An article by Persian daily Forsat-e Emrouz reports on the opportunities for investment in extraction of date seed oil. Availability of abundant sources of date seed as a byproduct of date processing industries is seen as a major advantage of investing in the industry.  

The fat content in the date seed ranges from 7.7 to 12.7%, depending on the date variety, origin, harvest time and use of fertilizer which could affect the nutrient value of the fruit. In date seed oil, oleic acid comprises over 50% of the fatty acid content and represents the main fatty acid in the oil, followed by 19% linoleic acid, 10% lauric acid and 10% palmitic acid.

The use of date seed oil is suggested for nutritional purposes, as cooking oil and also for production of margarine due to its high stability and resistance to thermal treatment.

  Extraction Process

The process of oil extraction from date seed includes five major steps: First the seeds are cleaned and dried to remove any foreign material. Then the seeds are cooked using rotary conditioners and passed between steel rolls to make tiny flakes. The first stage of oil extraction occurs in an expeller which squeezes the conditioned flake to liberate the oil. The pre-processed seeds are finally treated in a multistage counter-current process with solvent to extract the remaining oil content.

  Required Investment

Based on the report, setting up a factory with a capacity to produce 1,500 tons of oil per year requires an area of about 2,000 square meters, capital investment of about 20 billion rials ($600,000 at market exchange rate) for purchasing the required machinery and equipment and a workforce of at least 20 people.