Global Pistachio Production and Marketing Challenges
A complete research article on pistachio
Steps taken to decrease the number of Iranian Pistachio rejection in EU.
Iranian Pistachio An Achievement of quality
Iranian pistachio preserves its place in EU markets
Iranian Date and Its Market in the World
Global Pistachio Production and Marketing Challenges
Pistachio figures prominently among other nuts due to its nutritious value. Because of its high food value and favorable taste, planting pistachio trees has become common in other parts of the world. Pistachio product as a commercial output has a special importance in the agricultural production of some countries like Iran and contains large portion of non-petroleum exportation.
According to the latest statistics released by the World Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) affiliated to the United Nations, the pistachio production in the world stood at 548,759 metric tones (MTs) in 2002, Iran ranking first with a production of 300,000 MTs. The U.S. with a production of 127,010 MTs, Turkey with 40,000 MTs, Syria with 39,208 MTs, and China with 26,000 MTs took other places after Iran. The pistachio gardens in Iran's rival country, the U.S. occupies a total area of 44,000 hectares vs. 280000 hectares in Iran. Iran ranks first in the world in terms of pistachio production and harvested area but it does not enjoy such a high position in global marketing due to exporting challenges.
The USA as Iran's rival in pistachio global markets tries in many devices to improve its situation and gain in global war of pistachio production and export by defecting Iran, and USA with advanced technology may win in this war of globalization process. Of course, major markets in Europe, East Asia, Central Asia and the Persian Gulf littoral states use Iranian pistachios at present, but it is necessary that Iran observe international standards and make investments in marketing and exporting processing industries and find new target markets for this product, particularly by eliminating limitations and entering WTO.
In this study, existing position and challenges of major producing and exporting countries with especial reference to Iran and USA are considered and a number of strategies are recommended for an effective competition in global markets.
Pistachio, global, marketing, exporting, process, challenges, non-petroleum, WTO. [more>>]
A complete research article on pistachio
Common Names: Pistachio, Pistache.
Related Species: Mt. Atlas Pistache (Pistacia atlantica), Chinese Pistache (P. chinesis), Terebinth Pistache (P. terebinthus)
Distant Affinity: Cashew (Anacardium occidentale), Mango (Mangifera indica), Ambarella (Spondias cytherea), Yellow Mombin (Spondias mombin), Red Mombin (Spondias purpurea), Imbu (Spondias tuberosa) and others.
Origin: The pistachio tree is native to western Asia and Asia Minor,from Syria to the Caucasus and Afghanistan. Archaeological evidence in Turkey indicate the nuts were being used for food as early as 7,000 B.C. The pistachio was introduced to Italy from Syria early in the first century A.D. Subsequently its cultivation spread to other Mediterranean countries. The tree was first introduced into the United States in 1854 by Charles Mason, who distributed seed for experimental plantings in California, Texas and some southern states. In 1875 a few small pistachio trees, imported from France were planted in Sonoma, Calif. In the early 1900's the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture assembled a collection of Pistacia species and pistachio nut varieties at the Plant Introduction Station in Chico, Calif. Commercial production of pistachio nuts began in the late 1970's and rapidly expanded to a major operation in the San Joaquin Valley. Other major pistachio producing areas are Iran and Turkey and to a lesser extent, Syria, India, Greece, Pakistan and elsewhere.
Adaptation: Pistachios thrive in areas which have winters cool enough to break bud dormancy and hot, long summers. They are drought resistant and very tolerant of high summer temperatures, but cannot tolerate excessive dampness and high humidity. The tree has about the same cold resistance as almonds and olives but flowers later in spring than almonds. Chill requirements are estimated at 600 to 1,500 hours. In this country the pistachio is best adapted to the hot, drier regions of California and the Southwest, especially California's central valley and southern California inland areas. Pistachio trees are not particularly suitable as container plants.
Growth Habits: The pistachio is a broad, bushy, deciduous tree which grows slowly to a height and spread of 25 to 30 feet, with one or several trunks. The trees are inclined to spread and droop, and may initially need staking. Their open habit and attractive foliage make them valuable ornamentals. Under favorable conditions pistachio trees live and produce for centuries.
Foliage: The large, grayish leaves have 3 to 5 roundish, 2 to 4 inch-long leaflets.
Flowers: Pistachios are dioecious with male and female flowers on separate trees. Male and female trees must be present for fruit to set, or a branch from a male tree may be grafted on a female tree. The small, brownish green flowers are without petals and borne on axillary racemes or panicles in early summer. Wind carries the pollen from the male to the female flowers.
Fruit: The reddish, wrinkled fruits are borne in heavy clusters somewhat like grapes. Although known as a nut, the fruit of the pistachio is botanically a drupe, the edible portion of which is the seed. The oblong kernel is about 1 inch in length and 1/2 inch in diameter and protected by a thin, ivory-colored, bony shell. Normally the shells split longitudinally along their sutures when mature. Under unfavorable conditions during nut growth, the shells may not split open. The color of the kernel varies from yellowish through shades of green, which extends throughout the kernel. In general the deeper the shade of green, the more the nuts are esteemed. Pistachio nuts are rich in oil, with an average content of about 55%. The trees begin bearing in 5 to 8 years, but full bearing is not attained until the 15th or 20th year. Pistachios tend toward biennial bearing, producing heavy crop one year followed by little or none the next. Production of nuts is also influenced by drought, excessive rain, heat or cold and high winds.
Location: Pistachios should be planted in full sun. The size of the slow growing trees can be further controlled by pruning. When planting, avoid rough handling since the budded tops are easily broken away from the understock.
Soil: The trees do best on soils that are deep, friable and well drained but moisture retaining. It can, however, survive in poor, stony, calcareous, highly alkaline or slightly acid, or even saline soils. The root is deeply penetrating.
Irrigation: Pistachios will tolerate considerable drought but do best with deep, infrequent waterings.
Fertilization: Since pistachios grow slowly, they do not require large quantities of nitrogen fertilizer. A spring feeding of a complete fertilizer such as 10-10-10 NPK should be adequate.
Pruning: Pruning can be important to commercial growers in order to shape the trees for mechanical harvesting, but less so for the home orchardist. The trees should be trained to a modified central leader with 4 or 5 main scaffold limbs branching about 4 ft. from the ground. After initial training, little pruning is needed except to remove interfering branches. Heavy pruning reduces yield.
Propagation: The pistachio is usually propagated in California by budding or grafting selected scions onto seedling stocks of P. atlantica, P. terebinthus and P. integerrima. These rootstock species are used because of their vigor and resistance to nematodes and soil borne fungi.
Pests and Diseases: A number of fungi attack the pistachio. The most serious fungal disease in California is Verticillium wilt, which can quickly kill trees of varying age. Most pistachios are now grafted to Verticillium resistant P. integerrima rootstock. The trees are also sensitive to the oak root fungus, Armillaria mellea. Insect pests include the aphid, Anapleura lentisci and several species of leaf-footed bugs and stink bugs. The nuts are also very attractive to squirrels and some birds, including bluejays and woodpeckers.
Harvest: The nuts are harvested when the husk or hull covering the shell becomes fairly loose. A single shaking will bring down the bulk of the matured nuts, which can be caught on a tarp or canvas. A fully mature tree may produce as much as 50 pounds of dry, hulled nuts. The hulls should be removed soon after to prevent staining of the shells. To enhance splitting, the hulled nuts may then be dipped into water to moisten the shell and spread out in the sun to dry. One method of salting the split nuts is to boil them in a salt solution for a few minutes, then redry and store them. Stored in plastic bags pistachios will last for at least 4 to 6 weeks in the refrigerator. Frozen they will last for months.
The pistachio is unique in the nut trade due to its semi-split shell which enables the processor to roast and salt the kernel without removing the shell, and which at the same time serves as a convenient form of packaging. About 90% of California pistachios are consumed as in-shell snacks. Shelled pistachios are utilized commercially in confectionery, ice cream, candies, sausages, bakery goods and flavoring for puddings. They can also be added to dressings, casseroles and other dishes.
Commercial Potential: Pistachio nuts are considered one of the prime edible nuts, along with almonds, macadamias and cashews. The production of pistachio nuts in California has increased dramatically in recent years, from some 4-1/2 million pounds in 1977 to over 80 million today. With additional promotion, production is estimated to ultimately exceed 129 million pounds.
Many varieties of pistachio have been developed, because the crop has been grown for several thousands of years. In California some 13 cultivars have been tested, including Kerman, Ibrahmim, Owhadi, Safeed, Shasti and Wahedi (largest nuts of any cultivar). The first nut bearing cultivars tested at Chico, Calif. were Bronte, Buenzle, Minassian, Red Aleppo, Sfax and Trabonella. Kerman is liked by importers and processors for its size, crispness and snap when eaten. A sister seedling of Kerman, Lassen, also produces good quality large-sized nuts. The standard male cultivar is Peters. The Kerman and Peters cultivars are more fully described below.
Female. Nut above average in size. Shells split well, are easily opened by hand. Kernel size above average, of high quality, readily shaken or knocked from tree when ripe. Tree vigorous, upright-spreading. Blooms late, produces heavily but biennially. By far the leading commercial cultivar in the U.S. Originated in Chico, Calif. from seeds imported from Iran.
Male. Good producer of pollen, its blossoming coinciding with early blossoming cultivars, as well as the later blooming Kerman. Has a tendency to be a loppy, weak grower, especially when propagated on P. vera roots. Originated in Fresno, Calif. by A. B. Peters.
- Duke, James A. CRC Handbook of Nuts. CRC Press. 1989. pp. 240-243.
- Robert and Lance Walheim. Western Fruit and Nuts. HP Books, Inc. 1981. p. 166.
Steps taken to decrease the number of Iranian Pistachio rejection in EU.
During 2003 and first half of 2004 the number of rejects of Iranian pistachio into EU increased to approximately 16-21% on certified deliveries. Exports of Iranian pistachio into EU are, therefore, considered for additional restrictions. EU has advised that if the reject levels are not decreased the coming months, with the new harvest, additional restrictions -if not total embargo- will be imposed Traditionally Europe has been the most remunerative market for Iranian pistachios and EU authorities as well as European consumers like Iranian pistachios. Any probable additional restrictions would not only have adverse effect in Europe, but shall affect negatively global markets for Iranian pistachios. In order to counter such unfavorable circumstances, the Scientific and Technical Committee of INC/FRUCOM represented by Mr. G. Calcagni and Mr. M. Jallalpour, President of Kerman Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Mines (KCCIM) have come to the conclusion to launch a new study plan (under the name of Green Corridor Project 2004) and to analyze, step by step, all the critical control points to find guidelines and possible solutions.
RESTORING CONFIDENCE IN IRANIAN PISTACHIOS
1) Background and strategies
a) During 2003 and the first half of 2004 the number of RAS rejects of Iranian pistachio into EU increased to approximately 16-21% on certified deliveries.(Based on the percentage of official certificates issued in Iran, versus rejected consignments reported through RASSF)
b) The EU Authorities, as well European consumers, like pistachios. The market is large and rich, now covering more than 455 millions consumers with the potential to reach more than 600 million by 2010. One origine cannot supply all the demand in the market, therefore having confidence in more than one supplier is critical.
c) Export of Iranian pistachio is also important, currently 800 million US dollars is spent on export with the potential to reach 1000 million US dollars considering the added value that today is not obtained, due to uncertain quality and high number of rejections.
d) In Iran the pistachio industry is developed in the provinces of Kerman (93%) and Yazd (7%) it is economically, socially and politically, of extreme importance for about two million of the population.
e) During the last 5 years, aflatoxin has caused a great negative impact and is still causing huge losses and mis-confidence between growers, exporters and European importers. Gradually Iranian origin pistachio have disappeared from the main European retailers. As a consequence, Iranian growers are, losing value and market share and they cannot consistently invest in improvement programs without greater certainty. The fact is that the Iranian industry is generally depressed and frustrated.
f) During the last 10 years some basic changes have been brought in through GAP and GMP such as: only one harvest, improved pruning, irrigation and expensive water supply, different drying systems, water floating selection versus air sorting, collection bags, increased crop and slowness in the de-hulling and drying operations and maybe even the weather conditions have changed.
g) In conclusion, it's necessary to launch a new study plan and to analyse, step by step, all the critical control points to find a solution. Due to the large extension and large number of players it's necessary to have a pilot project on a voluntary basis, based on limited players that wish to make a change. In fact the traditions in this important country seem to be a large obstacle to the various initiatives planned so far by the national and regional institutions.
2) The Green Corridor Project:
This project consists of coordinating and implementing on a voluntary base of the following chain:
a) Up to 50 pistachio growers and farms (medium/large) with good expertise dedicated permanently to the pistachio production. It's suggested to combine up to 45 in Kerman province and 5 in Yard province.
b) 10 terminals of which 4 in Kerman, 3 in Rafsanjan, 1 in Yazd, 2 in Sirjan utilizing different systems for drying and water floating/dry sorting.
c) 6 exporters and/or processors, which are mainly exporting to the EU and other qualified countries such as Japan.
d) 12/13 European importers and/or processors and packers, which are particularly keen and aware of Quality.
3) The goal of the project consists of monitoring condition and practices at the following critical control points through the delivery chain starting from pre-harvest to utilization in Europe but only for pistachios out of crop 2004:
a) Pre-harvest: two weeks before ripeness in the field.
b) Harvesting time: early, middle and late.
c) Transport to terminals by various means including bags and plastic crates etc.
d) De-hulling, cleaning, drying, sorting, storage at terminals. This will include regular cleaning and disinfecting the system as well as routine measurement of temperature, humidity, water activity and aflatoxin analysis in different step of this process.
e) Receiving, storage, bagging: at exporter/packer sites plus various means of export transportation.
f) On arrival at European receiving points and during storage, eventual sorting, roasting and salting process until final Q.C . and on retailer-shelf.
4) Key participants in the project:
a) Coordinators of the Study Project:
Chairman of Kerman Chamber of Commerce Mr Mohsen Jallalpour.
Chairman of FRUCOM/INC Scientific and Technical Committee Mr Giuseppe Calcagni.
b) Scientific Team:
Dr Ramesh V Bhat : Scientific Director on INC-Frucom side
Dr Fariborz Shojaee Ali Abadi as Scientific Director on Iranian side
Dr Cameon Ivarsson as Chief Consultant
c) 7 Agronomists ( 6 Iranians and 1 European) looking after the field activities.
d) 3 Food technologists (2 Iranians and 1 European - Dr Ramesh Bhat) looking after the terminals and the exporters participation.
e) 2 Universities or National Research Centres: Kerman University in Iran and ISPA-CNR research institute in Europe, to monitor and evaluate the project and the conclusions.
f) A number of certified independent labs, Katham Lab in Iran and 6 in the main European importing countries to be chosen by importers involved.
5) Benefits and duties of participants
· The privilege to be in the list of volunteer companies leading an important project
· Take advantage of the research, the improvements and larger group
programmes for a better future and larger revenue
· Have all products tested free of charge
· (For the importers) Be part of Centres of Excellence towards the E.U. and the final customers
Field: Availability to provide all information and samples (limited quantity) free of charge
Terminal: Provide a specific contact person and free access to terminal during process
Provide samples (limited quantity) free of charge
Exporter: Supply all information prior to process/packing
Allow free access to the packing house
Provide samples free of charge
Provide all information related to shipment, name of receiver, container or truck number
Approve and accept a dual logistic test (standard vac bags versus reefer containers
Importer: Provide a specific contact person
Provide all information before import stage
Carry out analyses in the own lab or designated lab free of charge
Approve and accept a dual logistic test (standard vac bags versus reefer containers)
Traceability and reliability of export consigments
Verify the analysis results from Iran with those of the EU with a double testing program. For all the participants in this project the consignments sent to the EU will be analyzed by the Iranian authorities and EU authorities as required. At the same time samples from the same consignments will be analyzed in a private laboratory in Iran and another private laboratory in the EU. In such a way the Aflatoxin levels can be determined by two independent laboratories.
Identification of influence of shipping conditions
Determine the influence of packing and shipping conditions on the development of Aflatoxin between Iran and the EU. Split loads will be tested by selected exporters to determine the impact of refrigeration and vacuum packing versus normal shipment.
Identity preservation, Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP)
Put in place with the participants in the project the traceability necessary for the in-depth study of conditions favourable/unfavourable to the development of Aflatoxin.
Iranian Pistachio An Achievement of quality
Pistachio is one of the principal traditional export products of Iran and, since ancient times, has always occupied a special position in the foreign trade of the country. Thumbing back through the pages of history, we can observe that pistachio trees have existed since thousands of years ago, but were so rare that only the royal and rich families could possess some. Today the finest pistachio is native to Iran. In Kerman province, especially the region surrounding Rafsanjan city, more than 160 hectares of land are under pistachio cultivation, and about 95% of the pistachio of the country is produced here. The ideal climatic conditions of this area, with abundance of sunshine and perfect soil for the growth of pistachio trees, gives the pistachio the most natural taste and flavor that no other type of pistachio can equal.
A natural snack for health-conscious individuals, Iranian pistachio constitutes an ideal ingredient in the preparation of a variety of dishes and sweets and is served during party receptions and family gatherings. Pistachio has the highest protein content and nutritional value, and is second to none in the world for its high energy content. It contains a high percentage of potassium, phosphorus, calcium, and all the essential amino acids. It is believed that the consumption of pistachio reduces the risk of heart attack and death from coronary diseases. To enjoy its unique taste, the pistachio nuts should be salted, roasted and eaten out of the shell. In the years following the Islamic revolution of Iran, from the view point of job creation and export earnings, pistachio has always been the prime non-oil export product of Iran. Consequently, changes that occur in the international market of this product have a profound effect on the economy of the country.
During the last decade, the global production of pistachio has increased by 90% and some of the main reasons for this, in Iran and the USA, are the employment of new cultivation lands, effective pest and disease control and the prevention of wastage of the product. Iran not only produces the finest variety of pistachio, but can also boast to be the highest producer of this product with an annual average output of 130,000 tons during the past several years. In the previous year, the pistachio production in Iran amounted to 113,000 tons and it has been forecasted that the production would increase by 50 percent in the coming five years. While during this same period, the global production of pistachio is expected to reach 400,000 tons. Presently the USA, Turkey, and Syria are the main competitors of Iranian pistachio in the world markets.
Future Policies of Iran Regarding Pistachio
- Continuation of the program for promotion and expansion of market;
- Efforts to reduce pollution and wastage by adoption of ACCP method;
- Continuation of discussions with European countries; Maintenance and strengthening of sales markets in the European community.
Iranian pistachio preserves its place in EU markets June 13, 2004
Brussels, June 12, IRNA -- European Union and Iranian officials have strongly denied some media speculations on a possible European ban on Iranian pistachio imports due to aflatoxin contamination.
"There is no ban from the EU side, but there is 100 percent testing," Arancha Gonzalez, spokeswoman for trade in the European Commission, told IRNA.
She said that Iranian authorities "have not communicated to us any action plan to tackle this specific problem and, therefore, the 100 percent control at EU ports will have to remain in place."
"The controls are very strict and the control guarantees that the products that are being imported are not bad for human consumption," explained Gonzalez.
Aflatoxins are toxic metabolites produced by certain fungi in or on food and feeds and health authorities link it to liver and kidney cancers.
On May 27, a delegation comprising officials from the Iranian Ministries of Health and Agriculture accompanied by representatives from the Association of Dry Nuts Exporters and the Iranian Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Mines held talks in Brussels with Commission officials to resolve the problem.
Currently, the EU checks all pistachio imports from Iran, but if the situation improves only random checks will be carried out by the end of the year.
In the course of talks with the European Commission's health authorities, the EU side has accepted to exempt Iranian pistachio from 100 percent testing procedure if the number of rejected consignments are decreased to a certain low level till the beginning of the year 2005 when the Commission will make a decision.
Meanwhile, the Iranian side has assured it would continue to exert utmost efforts to improve the quality of its pistachio supply based on EU food safety standards.
"Due to the intense efforts made by the Iranian pistachio producers, agriculture and health authorities and the exporter companies for improving the quality of pistachio, and considering that as of the new year pistachio production will arrive in EU markets in three to four months, a drastic change in the quality of this product can be foreseen," Mohammad Javad Rezayat, counsellor for EU affairs at the Iranian embassy in Brussels, told IRNA.
Only 16.4 percent of Iranian pistachio exports to the EU have been rejected.
The European bloc slapped its first ban on Iranian pistachio imports due to alleged high-levels of aflatoxin in September 1997.
The embargo was lifted three months later following assurances from Tehran that it would improve health safety measures and the quality of its pistachio production.
The European Commission's consumer and food safety measures on imports are becoming stricter and tighter every year for all commodities being imported to the Union from all countries, including EU member states.
The core of the pistachio dispute is based on the different acceptable levels of aflatoxin.
Whereas the International Nut Council (INC) has set 15 ppb (parts per billion) as acceptable aflatoxin levels, the Commission standards have set this level at only 4 pbb.
Last March, the Commission informed Iran that aflatoxin contamination of its pistachio shipments to Europe was increasing and urged Iran to take appropriate actions to reduce it.
Iran has recently provided the European Commission with reports on the latest measures taken to tackle the problem.
Moreover, pistachio farmers in Iran are being trained for conversion from traditional farming to modern cultivation methods with the use of latest available farming technology.
The EU has been providing Iran with technical expertise on harvesting, processing and packaging of pistachios.
Iran's efforts to resolve the problem seems to be bearing fruits. According to the latest weekly notifications on food and feed safety issued by the Commission, the number of cases related to aflatoxins in Iran's pistachio was only four cases, which is well below the number in previous weeks.
"These facts show that Iran is serious about tackling the problem," said Rezayat.
Alert notifications are sent when the food or feed presenting a risk is on the European market and when immediate action is required.
Most pistachio imports enter the EU via countries with huge port and storage facilities like Germany.
However, after the recent EU enlargement, food control laboratories with essential technical expertise were established in the 10 newly joined border countries.
Both Iranian and EU officials have dismissed media insinuation that political motives are behind the EU action against Iran's pistachio.
"I deny in strongest terms any political considerations. Public health issues are not based on any political considerations but on scientific evidence," stressed Gonzalez.
"Although the problem with the Iranian pistachio is mainly technical, a small percentage of rejected pistachio consignments should not affect the whole pistachio trade with the EU, and Iranian pistachio exporters have to know that the competition in the EU market is a reality too," underlined Rezayat.
In 2002, world production of pistachio reached 571,000 tons.
Iran, with 248,000 tons, was the top producer of the tasty nuts followed by the US with 136,000 tons.
The EU absorbs about 25 percent of Iranian pistachio exports.
However, Iran's pistachio output will decline by 150,000 tons this year compared to last year's due to the unexpected changes in ecological conditions, according to the Director General of the Pistachio Affairs Department of the Iranian Ministry of Agriculture Jihad Behrouz Gheybi.
He told IRNA in Tehran that Iran's pistachio production will not exceed 60,000 tons this year and pistachio exports will be about 50,000 tons.
Iranian Date and Its Market in the World
Iranian Date Product
The date crop in Iran for all species (dried, semi-dried and fresh) during the farming year 1999-2000 was over one million tons. Iran shares 20 percent or so of the world date production and is the largest date producer in the world.
Iran produces 200,000 tons of dried date, 600,000 tons of semi-dried or fresh-to-dry date, and 200,000 tons of fresh date in its 180,000 hectares of palm groves mostly situated in the provinces of Kerman, Bushehr, Khuzestan, Fars, Sistan-Baluchestan, Yazd, Kermanshah, Hormozgan and Semnan.
Care and Harvest of Date in Iran
Date harvest in Iran is mainly traditional(1) except for the Sayer date of Khuzestan, which is completely industrial(2) and also part of the Mazafati (majestic) date of Kerman, which is partially industrial.
It should be noted that during the recent years, due to a new export market for Bushehr Province's date, part of the date crop is harvested industrially. Probably this method will be expanded in the province in the future.
Date Processing and Packaging Industry in Iran
The date processing and packaging industry is mainly concentrated in the following provinces:
Khuzestan Province has concentrated processing and packaging industry mainly on its Sayer product, which is a semi-dried date. As far as production is concerned, this product falls in two packaging methods: Balak and Consumer Packaging.
These workshops are 60 years old. This method was founded upon feasibility studies carried out by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and with the assistance of importing countries (England and USA) over half a century ago. The method made good progress in a way that before the outbreak of Iran-Iraq war the total output of these workshops amounted to 40-50 thousand tons per year. After the war and due to serious damages imposed on Abadan and Khorramshahr, where these workshops were mainly situated, coupled with the darkening of relations with the western countries (main consumers of dates), the processing and packaging industry suffered weaknesses and shortcomings. During recent years, post-war reconstruction policies revived these industries and some of them enjoy a good quality. It should be noted that these workshops mainly package Sayer stoneless dates in big cartons (above 10 kg) for export to Western countries, where they are used as raw material at foodstuff factories.
After the revolution a number of capital-intensive date processing and packaging units came to being in Khuzestan Province under state-run companies or using governmental subsidies. However, because of weak marketing and lack of sufficient feasibility studies the products of these units could not find their way into the world markets. As a matter of fact, to date, no opportunity has risen to make the best use of their capacities.
After the revolution, using governmental support, Bushehr Province, likewise, enjoyed the creation of a number of capital-intensive processing and packaging units for dates and the by-products. However, due to the aforementioned reasons cited for Khuzestan Province, these units failed to make great achievements.
Before the victory of Islamic Revolution a processing and packaging unit was established for Mazafati date but could not reap the expected results for the already mentioned reasons. However, in recent years, the private sector pushed this industry forward and new date processing and packaging units were established one after another. It is hoped that these efforts will be profitable in the future.
Overseas Consumer Markets of Iranian Date and Rivals
The consumer markets of Iranian date are classified in two groups of fresh fruits and dried fruits.
Mazafati is one major species of fresh date with huge annual yield. The largest portion of this product is consumed in domestic markets, but due to production growth during the recent years steps have been taken for exporting this product.
Mazafati date is mainly packaged with the traditional method. Immediately after harvesting in the groves the product is packed in small cartons (1 kg) and transported to air-conditioned warehouses. A small part of the crop is harvested using the industrial method and kept in cold storage from where they are to be carried to the processing workshops at a proper time for processing and packaging.
North European countries including England, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Germany, the Persian Gulf littoral states, the North American countries, especially Canada, East Asian countries plus Australia are major importers of Iranian Mazafati date. As a matter of fact Iranians living abroad are among the major consumers of the Mazafati date. Due to many ups and downs in the export of this product, it does not have a stable and permanent market in the overseas. There are no clear-cut statistics available from the Customs documents on the volume of export of this product, however; it is estimated that Mazafati date enjoys 20 percent of the nation's total export of dates.
Dried and Fresh-to-Dried Date
Almost all of the Sayer crop and part of the Zahedi date harvested in Khuzestan Province are processed in Packaging workshops. The Kabkab, Khasseh, Zahedi and Shavi dates of Bushehr and Fars as well as the Piarom and Ghasb dates of Kerman plus the Rabi date of Sistan-Baluchestan are processed for export. The dried and fresh-to-dried (semi-dried) dates, which naturally lack moisture, are easily storable in cool storage. On the other hand, they are subject to stored food pest thus necessitating on-time pesticide spraying, disinfecting and cleanliness of the store.
Types of Products, Consumer Markets and Rivals
When packaging stone dates (drupe), both dried and semi-dried species are used. This packaging uses both traditional and industrial methods.
In the traditional method, the crop is mainly harvested and placed in 1-3 kg cartons or in 20-50 kg gunnysacks. This method uses mostly the native species of Kabkab, Khasseh, Shavi, Shahani, Zahedi and Ghasb. These dates are first exported to Dubai, where they are transported to the Islamic countries consumer markets such as Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, India, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Meanwhile, Central Asian republics are ardent consumers of Iranian date in small packages.
Transported to the packaging units, the industrially harvested stone date, is disinfected, processed, sorted and packaged in 50 gr. to 1000 gr. packs. This type of packaging uses almost all species of date such as the Piarom, Rabi, Sayer, Kabkab, Shavi, Zahedi, etc. The dried date is moistened a little bit before packaging. Thanks to the easy storage of these dates and the possibility of transporting them in ordinary containers (not refrigerated), coupled with private sector facilities, these packages have captured consumer markets across the world. The number of these markets increases constantly. The major customers of Iranian dates are Muslim nations including Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Pakistan, and Central Asian states, Russia, Ukraine, and some Northern Europe countries such as Sweden, Denmark, and Norway. Iran's main rivals for the production of semi-dried stone date in small packages, are Algeria and Tunisia. These countries have made enormous investment and conducted wise marketing in the European countries enabling them to catch the lion's share of the date market. Next in ranking, are Saudi Arabia and Egypt. They both have had notable marketing during the recent years and made good progress in their date exports. The United States is another topnotch producer and exporter of dates with fixed consumer markets in Northern America and part of the world markets.
It should be noted that Marseilles Port in France, was one of the dried and semi-dried date small-package processing and packaging centers in the past but gradually this industry was transferred to date producing countries - Algeria and Tunisia - which had close relations with France. These two countries now enjoy the ownership of date processing and packaging industry with the investment of French companies.
Processing Sayer stoneless dates began some 60 years ago as a result of studies carried out by FAO in date-growing countries in the Middle East, namely Iran, Iraq and Pakistan. The project was assisted and co-sponsored by England and USA. These customers of date helped the development of the processing and packaging industry in Iran, Iraq and Pakistan. This method of production and packaging was gradually formulated in these countries and made outstanding growth, in a way that before the outbreak of Iraq imposed war the stoneless date production of these nations amounted to over 100,000 tons per year. After the war date production grew weaker and a few years later with the US economic sanctions, date exports dwindled to almost 10,000 tons per year. The United States, a major importer of Sayer stoneless date faced increasing domestic demand for this product and doubled its imports from Pakistan.
Once severely damaged during the war, the date processing and packaging industry recently sought new markets in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and East European countries. During these years, Iran exported 30-40 thousand tons of date.
It should be noted that industrially harvested Sayer date in the processing and packaging unit is disinfected, stoned (stone is removed), sorted, cleaned and packaged in bulk(3) (see footnote) method in cartons of over 10 kg. Then they are transported to foodstuff factories or exported to European countries including England, German, the Netherlands, Sweden, North American countries to Canada and to US, and recently to Australia and New Zealand, and to a number of Eastern Europe states such as Poland and Russia.
Future of Iranian Date Market and Ways of Expanding It
The following table shows the production and export of main dried fruits including raisins, pistachios and dates in the last farming year:
As the figures above show there is no sound proportion between production and exports. For instance, if we put date consumption in Iran at 100-200 thousand tons, a large portion of exportable date is used unnecessarily in this country. The very wide gap between the volume of production and export calls for further attention from the responsible authorities. Also it is necessary to initiate new consumer markets, introduce Iranian products in foreign markets on one hand, and on the other hand, improve the agricultural, sanitary, processing and packaging state in the groves and consumer markets equally. Preventing unnecessary domestic date consumption and export promotion will reserve a deserving share of world date market for our nation.
It is a method of harvest in which the harvested date is poured into wooden boxes, and processing and final packaging.
It is a method of harvest in which the harvested date is poured into sacks or consumer cartons to be transported to consumer markets.
3.Bulk packaging: The date cartons, measuring 10 kilograms or more, are carried to foodstuffs manufacturing factories or shipped to foreign customers to be packaged and re-exported.Consumer package is, however, smaller and measures lees than three kilograms. It is used by the marginal consumer.
||Export per Production