Good potential for Australian date industry

Australia's emerging date industry is one step closer to success following the funding approval for a national body to represent growers across the country to collaborate with researchers and scientists.

"The major challenge at the moment is poor fruit setting, particularly with one variety, the Barhi, and that's not just in one area — that's basically across the whole country," Mr Brauer said.

"We think it might be a pollination issue and we are working on that now."

Improving fruit setting could help growers produce more dates and provide consistent supplies to grocers and major supermarket chains.

While Mr Brauer believed the commercial date industry was still in its infancy in Australia, he hoped the association would create a new platform for growers to exchange knowledge and to be able to work with research institutes as an association.

"We have to collaborate with each other to get the industry on a firm base … and get the best result for the industry as a whole," he said.

While the association was working on improving fruit setting for Barhi dates, Mr Brauer said he hoped consumer awareness of fresh Australian-grown Barhi dates would increase.

The yellow Barhi date is a special variety known for its unique trait to be eaten in the khalal stage, when fresh and crunchy.

"At the moment the Middle Eastern population that's probably 80 to 90 per cent of your sales and Australian consumers are just becoming aware of what the fruit can be like in the fresh stage," he said.

Mr Brauer said so far most dates were sold direct to the public via individual websites, greengrocers, and markets in metropolitan areas.

"Myself, when I have had fruit, I have been able to sell into the Sydney market and they can't get enough," he said.

"But as an association as a whole we could look at supplying major supermarkets, which as individual growers we are unable to do."

Source: ABC Rural

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