As date growers in Arizona are in the midst of harvesting the sweet fruit, they now have a better idea of how to market their crop thanks to new research by two professors in the Morrison School of Agribusiness at Arizona State University.
They surveyed 3,000 consumers across the United States and found that people are willing to pay more for dates that are labeled “pesticide free,” and a few cents more for dates marked “Arizona grown.”
Sales of dates in the U.S. grew by 14 percent over the last decade, she said. Ninety percent of domestic dates are grown in the Coachella Valley, but there are 7,500 acres of Medjool dates in Arizona, which yield 14 million pounds of fruit worth $8 million at the market.
Dates are a small segment of Arizona’s agriculture. Leafy greens generate almost $3 billion to the economy and cotton adds $500 million. Date farming generates $30 million to Arizona’s economy, but the specialty crop grants are intended to increase competitiveness.