Economy, Business And Markets

Investment Opportunities Series: Date Processing Industry

Investment Opportunities Series: Date Processing IndustryInvestment Opportunities Series: Date Processing Industry

Iran’s total production of dates stands at 1 million tons per annum, said the head of the National Association of Iran’s Dates.

Mohsen Rashid-Farrokhi added that 150,000 tons of this amount are exported to Russia, India, the UAE, Malaysia and Indonesia as well as European countries.

Rashid-Farrokhi believes date and its byproducts present enormous potentials for growth and if Iran plans to have a more active presence in world markets, it should consider date processing.

“The importance of investment in date processing industry should not be overlooked. Date is a high-revenue crop, even the powdered seeds of this fruit have recently found their way into the food industry,” the Persian daily Forsat-e Emrooz quoted Rashid-Farrokhi as saying.

Standard date fruit processing involves the basic steps of fumigation, manual sorting, washing, drying, grading and packaging. In some countries, date producers have taken value-adding steps by employing more advanced processes for first-grade dates such as pitting (removal of seeds) before packing as pitted dates, refilling pitted dates with edible nuts and wrapping them in attractive packaging materials.

The second- and third-grade dates, remaining after the grading operations, can be used to produce date fruit pieces or pulp to be used for making processed foods such as breakfast cereals or confectionary products, date fruit paste, date syrup concentrate, date sauce, date cream and date cookies.  

Date pastes can have a very good market value, as these are used as sweeteners, binding agents and fillers. Raw dates could be used for the production of date juice concentrate that can be a good source of sugar, tannin and ascorbic acid.

Other date products such as date fruit bars containing oats, almonds and sesame seeds have also been produced in other countries.

“As we speak, Iran’s dates are sent in bulk to Australia, France and Spain where they are processed, repackaged and rebranded, and finally sold at much higher prices,” said the managing director of Khorma Bon-e-Jonoob Company.

Hassan Qanatiyan added that exports of raw dates, per se, is not economically viable and new products are needed.

Since many of the byproducts of dates enjoy high prices in international markets, more work needs to be done to raise awareness about them among potential investors to develop a sustainable industry in Iran.