Pune Mirror: We all know that dates can be expensive, but these really take the cake. This season, some of the costliest dates from Saudi Arabia have hit the shelves in Pune, retailing for a whopping Rs 16-22,000 per kg.
Ambar dates, sold in the KGN date shop owned by Aqeel Bagwan on Saldanha Street near Shivaji Market, have come to the city from Madina in Saudi Arabia for the very first time.
Surprisingly, the cost has not deterred date-aficionados. The response was so tremendous that the costly dates vanished off the shelves on the day they arrived, claims Bagwan, who added that he made a cool Rs 40,000 off them on Sunday, which happened to be the first day he set up shop in Camp for the forthcoming Ramadan festival.
Other costly fine dates sold here are Ajwa dates set in honey and dry fruits, priced at Rs 12,000 per kg — currently the most fast-moving in the expensive category, while others are cardamomflavoured Ajwa dates for Rs 2,200 per kg.
Dates in the ‘medium cost’ category are Fresh Sukkery dates for Rs 800 kg, KAS Algerian dates for Rs 400 per 300 gms and Safavi dates from Iran that retail at Rs 600 per kg.
Bagwan says he decided to import the expensive dates after he was told by a prominent Mumbai-based importer that Ambar dates were popular with Puneites, who were purchasing them directly from Mumbai.
“I made a quick decision to cash in on the opportunity and it worked!” he said. Bagwan’s 15 years of experience in the market helped word spread rapidly, and the limited stock was sold in no time.
Bagwan says Ambar dates are popular with both his Muslim and Hindu clients. “Forty per cent of my clientele comprises Hindus in the ‘elite’ class with purchasing power. Growing awareness about the medicinal value of dates has been increasing sales in Pune.”
Bagwan added, “Several Brahmin customers from Kothrud order special Ajwa varieties for their medicinal value, directly imported from Mecca.”
Aslam Bagwan, who has been buying dates for over a decade here, said “Since it is imported, we don’t mind spending extra — dates are natural healers, rich in carbohydrates, proteins and vitamins.
Especially in the month of Ramadan, Muslims generally break their fast by eating dates.” Another loyal customer, Mahesh Jambhulkar, said, “Dates are rich in calcium, and help keep one’s eyes healthy too.
After finding out about their tremendous medicinal value, I insist on quality dates, and then, price does not matter.”