EghtesadOnline: Iran exported more than 300,000 tons of dates in the last fiscal year (March 2018-19) to account for 15% of global trade of the crop, according to Agriculture Ministry official.
“Iran is the world’s second biggest producer of dates with an annual production of around 1.2 million tons. The figure accounts for 10% of the global output,” Zahra Jalili Moqaddam was also quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency.
Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Pakistan, Algeria, Iraq, Sudan, Oman and Libya are top 10 producers of dates in the world. Egypt has the biggest production and Algeria has the biggest area of land under date cultivation, Financial Tribune reported.
There are a dozen types of dates produced in Iran.
Chairman of the National Association of Iranian Dates Mohsen Rashid Farrokhi said Iran exports around 20% of its overall production.
“The government has a five-year plan to increase the share of exports from local production to 30%,” Farrokhi told Financial Tribune in an interview.
Countries in North America, the European Union, Russia, India and China are the main destinations for Iranian dates.
Per capita date consumption in Iran is 3 kilograms per year.
Dates are mainly produced in six Iranian provinces, namely Kerman, Sistan-Baluchestan, Khuzestan, Hormozgan, Bushehr and Fars. This year's production mainly came from Kerman, Sistan-Baluchestan and Khuzestan, together accounting for 800,000 tons of the total output (70%).
Farrokhi believes dates and their byproducts have enormous growth potential and if Iran plans to have a more active presence in iternational markets, it should consider processing dates to produce related products such as date vinegar, date spread, cookies, etc.
Stating that only 15% of dates produced in Iran are used in processing industries, Farrokhi said plans are underway, as part of the aforesaid five-year plan, to increase the share to 30%.
Customs Duty on Exports
Exports of dates will be subject to customs duty from April 3 to May 20, Hamid Zadboum, the head of Trade Promotion Organization of Iran announced in a letter to the National Association of Iranian Dates.
The rate of the duty will be announced in the near future, he added.
The measure is aimed as regulating the market during the holy month of Ramadan and avoiding a probable price increase in the domestic market, since date is a typical staple to break fasting by Muslims.
The new decision comes against the backdrop of economic players voicing their opposition to imposing export tariffs on the product.
“An estimated 100,000 tons were exported during eight months to Nov. 21, which is about 270,000-280,000 tons lower than last year. The country is now facing an excess supply of dates, which is partly to blame on export duty," he was quoted as saying by IRNA.
This year, in particular, besides higher demand during Ramadan, prices have skyrocketed in line with runaway inflation in Iran.