Following the success of Bamba in the US, outgoing Osem CEO Itzik Saig is looking to market Majhoul (Medjool) dates to the world as one of Israel’s most successful and lucrative exports, behind the avocado.
Currently, capital is being raised from investors, including former Coca Cola CEO Ronnie Kobrovsky. The team working on the initiative intends to acquire date orchards in the Jordan Valley and be involved in the entire production process, from growing and sorting to packaging and marketing.
The team will invest in advanced equipment and data necessary to increase yields. Computerized systems will enable irrigation and fertilization for each tree separately, in order to maximize yields and save costs.
The Majhoul date is known to be one of the most sought after and succulent dates. Due to the unique climate in the Jordan Valley and Arava regions, Israel controls 65% of the world’s Majhoul market. While in the past, farmers there would grow and export peppers, following a downturn in that market, the government spent NIS 100 million in incentives for the farmers to switch to growing dates instead.
The health benefits of dates have made it the sweet snack of choice for health conscious people. Worldwide demand for the fruit has increased steadily and its production has grown by 66% over the last two decades. Israel alone produces some 40,000 tons of dates annually, a 70% increase over the last decade, and the sector is on the rise.