It’s a date: UAE firm launches date sugar retail product to tap natural sweeteners demand

By Guan Yu Lim contact

- Last updated on GMT

The 500g date sugar retail pack will be available at Woolworths, Coles, Carrefour, Spinneys, and Waitrose ©Al Barakah Dates Factory
The 500g date sugar retail pack will be available at Woolworths, Coles, Carrefour, Spinneys, and Waitrose ©Al Barakah Dates Factory

Related tags: Uae, date sugar, Sweetener

UAE firm Al Barakah Dates will be launching its date-based sugar in retail packs this month, after its initial launch to B2B customers.

The 500g date sugar is low in GI and seeks to tap into consumer demands for healthier and natural alternatives to refined sugars.

According to the company, the new product took two years of development and is made by grinding whole dates with the seeds removed into a fine powder.

The company has a sweetener range which includes the date sugar, along with existing paste and syrup products.

In an interview with FoodNavigator-Asia​, Sally Arnold, the firm’s head of international business said: “A boom in consumer demand for alternatives to refined sugars, the rise of the wellness culture and dates now being a staple of ‘healthy’ eating, so we saw an opportunity to develop a free flowing granular product to complement our date paste and date syrup, all being 100% date natural sweeteners​.”

We knew that date sugar could provide our B2B customers with a healthier natural alternative to white and refined sugars in a physical format that would work in recipe reformulations for sugar reduction, as well as new product developments​.”

According to Arnold, as the sugar is made entirely from dates, it is naturally high in dietary fibre and minerals such as potassium, magnesium and copper. 100g of date sugar contains 68g of naturally occurring sugars and 7g of fibre.

The date syrup contains 62g of naturally occurring sugar and 8g of fibre per 100g. For its date paste, there are 60g of naturally occurring sugars and 13g of fibre per 100g.

The company hopes to increase the awareness of date sugar and is currently working on several consumer NPD projects and technical product applications.

Besides sweeteners, Al Barakah Dates Factory also produces dates, chopped dates and dates seeds. 

The company sources dates from U.A.E., Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Tunisia, and Algeria.

Its 200,000 square foot facility in Dubai Industrial City, can produce about 60,000 metric tons of date products, and cold storage capacity of 40,000 metric tons of dates.

The company currently export to more than 60 countries worldwide including Middle East, Asia, Oceania, Europe, North America and South America.

During Ramadan this year, Arnold told us sales were down 10% year-on-year due to the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak. “Most countries around the world were on lockdown and wholesalers had limitations on distribution. Many consumers were avoiding making repeated trips to retailers to pick up their dates requirement​.”

In an effort to become a more sustainable and environmentally responsibility business, the company also installed more than 3,000 solar panels to generate over 1,7770 Mwh of power annually and was the first date factory in the world to run on solar power in 2018. Arnold told us this had delivered an annual cost saving of 12%.

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