Atlas Produce & Distributing Inc. in Bakersfield, CA, which specializes in California-grown Medjool dates marketed under the “Caramel Naturel” label, has introduced a new consumer pack to its product line.
“We added an eight-ounce pack this year” in a clamshell style, said Robert Dobrzanski, president and sales manager.
The company has seen “increases in sales at the retail level,” he said. “That is primarily because of our ‘Caramel Naturel’ label” and the retail packaging the company offers in that brand. “It has really helped drive sales. We are getting a lot of traction with the club store pack” which is a two-pound tub, and he expects the addition of the eight-ounce clam to help further boost sales.
In addition, he said, “We have developed a new high-graphic 11-pound box for export.”
Dates are a category “that oftentimes is overlooked” at retail, Mr. Dobrzanski said. Along with the packaging innovations, “we provide the support to the retailer, so that it is not overlooked, so they then realize sales that otherwise they wouldn’t have.”
That support may be in the form of promotional money as well as in service and deliver and “just making it easy for the customer.”
Atlas sells around 15 different items. To make it convenient for the customer, “We can deliver, or they can pick it up from our facility in Los Angeles,” he said.
The California date crop “is late this year, like every commodity. I would say it is running two to three weeks late,” Mr. Dobrzanski said. But “the crop looks very good.” He expects the crop to be larger than last year for the state, and “the main reason for that is because there are more trees coming into production, not necessarily because the crop looks bigger per tree. There are just more trees that are going to be producing.”
It takes about eight years from the time of planting “to get a crop,” he said. With new date groves that have been planted over the last several years, “we are at a time period where here in the next few years we are going to see growth” over the next few years, particularly in the Medjool variety.
With the Deglet Noor variety, “you are going to see that the availability is going to be less because of fewer producing trees,” Mr. Dobrzanski said.