Handpicked and Syrupy Dates

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Fossils suggest that dates (the kind you eat) have existed for 50 million years. Joolies California Superfruit is committed to expanding the U.S. popularity of this internationally treasured fruit.

To grow, dates require hot weather, arid climate, sandy soil, ever present sun and pure water. With the Colorado River as its water source, Coachella Valley, Colorado-based Joolies scores extremely high marks in all of these categories and serves as home to 95% of the U.S. medjool date production.

Bedouin tribes of the Middle East, who eat a high percentage of dates in their diet, have one of the lowest rates of cancer. Interestingly, date palms require at least 100 sunny days of 100-degree temperatures for best fruit production. Over their seven-month growing season, they store the intense energy of the desert in their fruit.

The medjool date, the type of date produced by Joolies, is a complex carbohydrate fruit with no cholesterol or sodium and a low glycemic index. This date is bursting with fiber, potassium, iron, magnesium, and high natural sugar. In its native Morocco, the medjool date is referred to as the “King of Dates.” They are softer and sweeter than other date varieties and their delicate skins necessitate picking by hand rather than by machine.

The Kohl family has been growing dates on 500 acres in Coachella Valley for 20 years. In the two years since Joolies was formed, the Kohl family and co-founder Greg Willsey have brought on board an experienced food and beverage management team, led by CEO Mark Masten,

From its debut at the 2019 Natural Products Expo West, where Mr. Masten’s crew handed out free samples to receptive millennials and industry buyers, Joolies has enjoyed impressive growth. Joolies currently sells on-line through Amazon, Thrive Market and its own website. The company’s retail presence includes two divisions of Whole Foods, 331 Southern California Albertsons and nationwide in 335 Sprouts stores. Mr. Masten’s talented branding team recently designed packaging resembling small raisin boxes with a modern aesthetic which are sold at Sprouts check-out stands, a potential sales bonanza.

In line with the Kohl family’s longstanding commitment to an all-organic customer proposition, the packaging portfolio is designed with sustainability in mind. Medjool date packages are fully recyclable with only two grams of plastic, just a fraction of the 43 grams used in similarly-sized plastic clamshell tubs. The company’s innovative boxes add functional value to consumers, containing a small slit for consumers to deposit their pits.

For date lovers who prefer their medjools without pits Joolies employs a team of people who use knives to remove the pits by hand. The labor-intensive process of harvesting, grading and sorting begins towards the end of summer and lasts approximately six weeks. The process has been made safer and more efficient than using ladders and machetes by using the Afron lift, lifting the workers into palm trees to pick dates, allowing four people to safely do the job of one.

The hand-picked “pretty” dates are separated for sale in Joolies trademarked packaging and the remaining imperfect-looking ones are upcycled and made into 100% medjool date syrups. Joolies recently launched a line of date syrup flavors available in blueberry, cinnamon and cocoa varieties.

Mr. Masten was thrilled with Joolies’s July 2020 acquisition of a neighboring date farm which included a processing center. This enhanced footprint is expected to help advance Joolies’s goal of growing this explosive start-up’s shelf presence from the current 1,000 retail doors to between 5,000 and 8,000 stores.

David Liepman
August 3, 2020

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