Many exotic fruits have become popular in Europe in the past few decades, but dates are still relatively unknown to European consumers. Yet, these traditional fruits, mainly produced in the Middle East, are believed to contain many health-promoting ingredients.
Through scientific research, Wageningen UR and the Netherlands Agro, Food & Technology Centre (NAFTC) aim to validate these health claims. This initiative is has received support from the Dutch National Topsector Agri&Food, via a ‘seed money project’ worth € 35.000, to create the basis for further research.
Together with date producers and traders, the Dutch researchers also aim to reduce post-harvest losses. They want to investigate ways to prolong the shelf-life of various date varieties in such a way that the nutritious value of the fruits is maintained.
Dates are an important product in countries from the Middle East and the south of the Mediterranean. Total production volumes have tripled over the past decades and currently mount up to 6 million tonnes annually. Dates are characterised by large biological variation, resulting in likewise variation for products that are available to consumers.