The date harvest in Tunisia began this week. Unlike other crops, which are suffering from a year of drought, the date sector is doing well, with production actually up on last season. Mohamed Akermi, CEO of Tunileaf, reports on the start of the season.
Akermi told FreshPlaza: “Everything went well in terms of production, we had less heat and we were able to ensure sufficient irrigation, which translated into a better yield than last year. Quality is very good, especially for premium dates. Official estimates from the Tunisian Ministry of Agriculture put production this season at 390,000 tonnes, compared with 340,000 tonnes last season. Deglet Nour remains the leading Tunisian date with 328 thousand tons this season”.
Exports will begin immediately, adds Mr. Akermi. “At Tunileaf, our calendars start on November 4. We have already received orders from our regular customers for 50% of our volumes. These orders come from Germany, Belgium, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco. We are open to all requests for the other half. Tunisian dates are in demand all over the world, particularly in Europe, North Africa, the Gulf States, Indonesia and Malaysia. At Tunileaf, we prefer to work with countries that are geographically close to us, in the Gulf countries, Europe or Morocco, in order to reduce costs and ensure that our dates arrive as fresh as possible”.
Deglet Nour will be available in three qualities, adds Mr. Akermi: “There will be the premium branch, called Arjoun, which we highly recommend to sources of good quality dates. Then there will be an intermediate quality, called Standard, and finally Ravier dates, for those who prefer dry dates. We have stocks of all these qualities ready to order”.
As for prices, “they will remain at a controlled level”, asserts Mr. Akermi. “The authorities, in agreement with producers, set a reference price for each of the three qualities. Tunisian date prices remain very competitive on the international market.