Tree of Life
8,000 year old trade is facing a Millennial revamp
At an estimated US$3bn-$4bn, the global annual trade in Dates, is small by comparison to Bananas ($20bn), Cocoa ($10bn, $120bn cocoa derived consumer goods) or Coconuts & Coconut products ($12bn-$15bn). However, the cultural and demographic shifts resulting from globalisation, have prompted robust growth in demand for Dates and Date products outside the traditional markets of North Africa, Middle East and South Asia. The growing appetite for Dates and Date products in Europe, North America and Asia has boosted the value of the international trade in Dates by 3-fold in the two decades between 1996 and 2016. Now, diverse actors along the international value chain for fruit and food processing, and agri-food investors are assessing the Date economy for entry strategies. As with the value chains for Cocoa and Coconuts, the Date economy has depended traditionally, almost entirely on the production of smallholder farmers, but the greatest proportion of the wealth generated by the crop has been concentrated in the hands of aggregators, processors and distributors. Against a background of sustained growth in demand for Dates by countries outside the producer nations, yet with exports representing no more than 15% of the global crop, there is a new focus on productivity, quality and consumer preference; an 8,000 year old trade is facing a Millennial revamp.