TOKYO: Japan imports of Saudi Arabian dates amounted to 120.7 tons, placing it fifth in the list of providers to the Japanese market, according to 2020 Ministry of Finance statistics. The value of the Saudi imports was 121.5 million yen (about $1.2 million), according to the data.
Topping the list was Pakistan with about 618 tons, valued at ¥72.4 million (about $700,000), followed by Iran (562 tons, ¥88.7 million), Tunisia (241 tons, ¥143.6 million ) and USA (240 tons, ¥210 million).
The UAE ranked sixth with 103.5 tons (¥27 million) followed by Oman (56 tons, ¥16.1 million), Egypt (32.6 tons, ¥9 million), China (14 tons, ¥5 million), Turkey (13.1 tons, ¥5.5 million), Israel (9.3 tons, ¥8 million), Taiwan (2.5 tons, ¥3 million), Algeria (1 ton, ¥318,000) and Morocco (540 kg, ¥202,000).
Japan’s total imports of dates amounted to 2,014 tons, valued at ¥710.3 Million, the data said.
Dates have recently attracted attention from health-conscious and beauty-conscious people. Seijo Ishii, one of Japan’s high-quality supermarkets, said it has been importing Saudi dates as new products in the Japanese food market and they are rapidly growing popular.
According to food media sites, the sales of dates in Seijo Ishii have been increasing. Data show the increase in 2019 was about 20% compared to 2018, and have continued to grow steadily ever since.
Last year, buyers from Seijo Ishii participated in an exhibition held in Dubai and compared about 10 kinds of dates of different sizes and sweetness.
The 250g Nakhil package is sold for about $5. The packages explain that dates are “dried fruits rich in fiber and easily ingested. It is a richly sweet fruit that does not contain cholesterol or lipids.”
Starting with a farm that has been cultivating dates for over 200 years, Nakheel ships dates from its own farm or contract farms. After bringing out the sweetness by maturing and drying fruits on the tree, they are hand-picked, promotors said.