Dates are a relatively sweet food and are one of the most popular foods for Middle Eastern people. However, dates play an important role in Islam. So Which country is the largest exporter with dates export?
Dates – there are hundreds of varieties – also play an important role in the economies of many countries along the Fertile Crescent. Global trade in fresh or dried dates reached US$1.4 billion in 2016, a five-fold increase since 2001. In addition, the date palm trade grew by an average of 14% between 2012 and 2016.
In fact, in 2016, the total export value of date palms from the Middle East and North Africa region reached US$1.12 billion, accounting for 77% of total global exports.
Tunisia is the world’s largest exporter of dates by value. In 2016, it exported dates worth about $227 million, or 16 percent of global exports. Iran ($209 million), the United Arab Emirates ($160 million), and Saudi Arabia ($142 million) were other date exporters.
However, Iraq is the largest exporter of dates in terms of volume, exporting more than 321,000 tons. The UAE came in second, exporting around 276,000 tonnes, while Iran was third with 209,000 tonnes.
The world’s largest importer of dates is India. In 2016, it imported $211 million worth of fruit. The UAE and Morocco were also major markets, with imports valued at $119 million and $96 million, respectively.
However, Egypt is the world’s largest producer of dates, accounting for about 17 percent of global production, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization. Despite its large production, Egypt exports less than 3 percent of the world’s date palms. Iran is the second largest producer of dates with 15%, with Saudi Arabia third with 14% of production.
According to ITC’s Export Potential Map, the markets with the greatest export potential for date palms in the MENA region are the United Arab Emirates and Morocco. The combined untapped import potential is estimated to be worth more than $235 million. This opens up opportunities for date-producing countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia, which can benefit from zero tariffs under the GAFTA agreement.