Dates, dried [German version]

Table of contents

Product information
  Container transport
  Cargo securing

Risk factors and loss prevention:
Temperature Odor
Humidity/Moisture Contamination
Ventilation Mechanical influences
Biotic activity Toxicity / Hazards to health
Gases Shrinkage/Shortage
Self-heating / Spontaneous combustion Insect infestation / Diseases

Product information

Product name

German Datteln, getrocknet
English Dates, dried
French Dattes séchées
Spanish Dátiles secados
Scientific Phoenix dactylifera
CN/HS number * 0804 10 00

(* EU Combined Nomenclature/Harmonized System)

Product description

Dates are the berry fruits of the date palm of the palm family (Palmae, Arecaceae), which may reach up to 25 m in height. The date palm is one of the oldest cultivated plants and is probably native to the area around the Persian Gulf.

The date palm is dioecious, and only a few male palms are kept; the female trees are pollinated by hanging pollen-impregnated cotton cloths over the female inflorescences, which then develop up to 200 dates per fruit spike.

The single-seeded oval berry fruit, approximately the size of a plum, is golden yellow to brownish red in color and has soft flesh and an inedible stone.

The water content of dates is reduced to 20% by natural or artificial drying. The latter process is preceded by immersion in boiling sodium hydroxide solution.

Sometimes the stones, which constitute 15% of the fruit, are left in, resulting in dates with an attractive rounded appearance; the dates may on the other hand be stoned, but then have a sunken appearance.

Quality / Duration of storage

Good dates are light brown and shiny, do not stick to one another and are not infested with mites. The most popular variety is the Deglet Noor from North Africa, which is light brown and has soft juicy flesh and a shiny appearance.

Old or incorrectly handled goods have a dull appearance and dry floury flesh and lack the distinctive sweet flavor.

Dates may become sour as a result of inadequate processing or an excessively long storage period. Sour fruit can only be used as animal feedstuff.

Provided that the recommended storage temperature and relative humidity are complied with, dried dates may be kept for approx. 6 – 12 months.

Intended use

The sweet, soft varieties („fruit“ dates) are exported and are eaten raw, while the starch-rich dried dates constitute a staple food in the countries where they are cultivated. The seeds are roasted and made into date coffee.


(Click on the individual Figures to enlarge them.)

Photo, dates

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Figure 2
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Figure 3
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Figure 4
Drawing, dates

Figure 5

Countries of origin

This Table shows only a selection of the most important countries of origin and should not be thought of as exhaustive.

Europe Tunisia, Greece
Africa Algeria, Morocco, South Africa
Asia Iraq, Iran, Israel
America USA (California, Florida, Arizona)
Australia Australia

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Dates are packaged in, among other things, paperboard cartons (5 – 34 kg) and boxes (13 kg), dates for industrial use also being packaged in barrels and bags.

When packaged in corrugated or millboard cartons, the product should be transported on pallets. The packaging size should be so selected that the dimensions of the individual area modules or area module multiples are conformed to the conventional pallet sizes (800×1200 mm and 1000×1200 mm) and cargo units may thus be produced.

Photo, dates

Figure 6

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Symbol, general cargo

General cargo


Means of transport

Ship, railroad, truck

Container transport

Standard containers / refrigerated containers are used, subject to compliance with lower limits for water content of goods, packaging and container flooring. Containers should be stowed below deck to prevent the development of high temperatures and thus syrup formation.

Cargo handling

Since the packages are sensitive to impact, appropriate care must be taken during cargo handling.

In damp weather (rain, snow), the cargo must be protected from moisture, since this may lead to mold, rot, fermentation and tackiness.

Stowage factor

1.80 m³/t (in 11 kg or 35 kg boxes) [1]
1.10 m³/t (dates for industrial use in cartons) [1]
1.25 – 1.31 m³/t (boxes) [11]
0.91 – 1.02 m³/t (boxes) [14]
0.82 – 0.85 m³/t (bulk cargo) [14]

Stowage space requirements

Cool, dry, good ventilation if required; high-quality dates (dessert dates, selected) are transported in cold stores.


Marker pen, oil crayon, oiled paper, packing paper

Cargo securing

In order to ensure safe transport, the cargo must be stowed and secured in the means of transport in such a manner that it cannot slip or shift during transport. If loss of volume and degradation of quality are to be avoided, the packages must not be damaged by other articles or items of cargo.

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Risk factors and loss prevention

RF Temperature

Dates require particular temperature, humidity/moisture and possibly ventilation conditions (SC VI) (storage climate conditions).

Precise details should be obtained from the consignor as to the storage temperature to be maintained.

Designation Temperature range Source
Favorable travel temperature 4 – 20°C [1]
0 – 2°C [3]
0 – 2°C [5]

At temperatures < 10°C, possible mite growth is inhibited while it is promoted by heat.

At temperatures > 25°C, syrup forms and fermentation may occur. There is a risk of the syrup („date honey“) seeping out of the packaging and damaging other goods. Discoloration may also occur, such as darkening or blotchiness.

The product should  not be stored close to heat sources.

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RF Humidity/Moisture

Dates require particular temperature, humidity/moisture and possibly ventilation conditions (SC VI) (storage climate conditions).

Precise details should be obtained from the consignor as to the relative humidity to be maintained.

Designation Humidity/water content Source
Relative humidity 50 – 60% [1]
Water content 14 – 20% [1]
Maximum equilibrium moisture content 65% [1]

At a relative humidity > 70%, dates have a tendency to become moldy, to support yeast growth and to ferment.

At a relative humidity < 60%, dates become tough and hard.

Dates are strongly hygroscopic. Moisture, in particular ship sweat and direct contact with seawater or rain, causes fermentation. If this is the case, the entire consignment may start to ferment. In order to prevent wetting of the product by sweat from hold or container surfaces, it should be protected with dunnage . If a fermentation process is initiated, it may eventually affect the entire cargo.

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RF Ventilation

Dates require particular temperature, humidity/moisture and possibly ventilation conditions (SC VI) (storage climate conditions).

If the product is at „shipping dryness“, i.e. if there is no risk of degradation by mold etc. due to water content, ventilation is not required. If this is not the case, the following ventilation measures should be implemented:

Recommended ventilation conditions: air exchange rate: 6 changes/hour (airing)

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RF Biotic activity

Dates display 3rd order biotic activity.

They belong to the class of goods in which respiration processes are suspended, but in which biochemical, microbial and other decomposition processes still proceed.

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RF Gases

No risk.

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RF Self-heating / Spontaneous combustion

Chemical reactions proceed rapidly at temperatures > 25°C. Considerable syrup formation and self-heating may be the result.

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RF Odor

Active behavior Dried dates have a slight, pleasant odor.
Passive behavior Dried dates are highly odor-sensitive and should not be stowed in the vicinity of onions and other alliaceous vegetables as their essential oils cause odor-tainting.

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RF Contamination

Active behavior At temperatures > 25°C, syrup forms and fermentation may occur. There is a risk of the syrup seeping out of the packaging and damaging other goods. Syrup removal is extremely difficult. Washing out of the hold/container with fresh water is problematic, as the water and the syrup form a sticky foam, which is difficult to remove.
Passive behavior Dried dates are extremely sensitive to contamination.

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RF Mechanical influences

The packages must be secured appropriately in the hold or container so that they cannot move during transport. In the case of container transport, it is also important for the goods to be secured in the door area so that they cannot fall out of the container when the doors are opened.

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RF Toxicity / Hazards to health

Mite infestation may cause gastrointestinal conditions if the product is eaten. Inhalation of mite dust may cause asthma attacks and frequent contact with mites may result in skin conditions.

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RF Shrinkage/Shortage

The normal weight loss due to a reduction in the moisture content of the product may be approx. 1 – 2%.

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RF Insect infestation / Diseases

Exposure to heat and moisture may result in mite infestation, which may make the dates inedible and cause severe gastrointestinal conditions. Mite infestation may be determined by examination with a magnifying glass: mites may be distinguished from crystallized glucose because they are whitish, slow moving dots. Development from the egg to imago (sexually mature insect) takes 10 days.

If mite infestation is slight, the product may usually still be rescued by heating.

Infestation with moths (almond moth, meal moth), beetles (sap beetle, sawtoothed grain beetle, flour beetle), rats, mice and ants leads to contamination and loss of volume. It often has its origin in the country of production and entails depreciation of the product together with the fumigation and heating costs involved in reconditioning. A fumigation certificate must be provided.

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