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    It’s a Date

    Year-long multimedia campaign aims to encourage new uses for ancient fruit variety

    The Bard Valley Medjool Date Growers Association (BVMDGA), a consortium of Southwest farmers, has designated nine cities as top date markets – the kind of dates you eat, of course.

    Miami, Tampa and Orlando, Fla., in addition to six other U.S. cities, are stops in a year-long tour and multimedia marketing effort with the goal of getting consumers to see one of the world’s oldest fruits in a whole new light. The markets were chosen based on a propensity for higher date consumption among residents because of greater local Bard Valley Medjool date distribution and retailer programs.

    Kicking off this month in the three Florida cities, the Great Bard Valley Medjool Date Tour includes local samplings, in-store promotions and other activities to introduce Americans to the flavor, nutrition and culinary possibilities of Bard Valley Medjools. Up to one-third of all dates are eaten in the United States during the spring holidays, according to the California-based association.

    The other cities on the itinerary are Boston, Chicago, Denver, Houston, St. Louis and San Antonio, Texas.

    The tour is part of a year-long marketing effort by BVMDGA to boost awareness, trial and consumption of Medjool dates. To that end, the growers have joined forces with local registered dietitians to educate consumers, bloggers and other groups, and with Publix and other grocers on a range of in-store programs.

    As well as local advertising, PR and in-store support tactics, a comprehensive digital advertising and social media program and a national PR component will aim to make Bard Valley Medjools better known this year.

    Caramel-like, naturally sweet Bard Valley Medjools, the top Medjool date brand in the United States, are a good source of fiber, and contain more antioxidants than blueberry juice and only slightly less antioxidants than pomegranate juice. They also provide such nutrients as potassium, copper, magnesium, vitamin B6, niacin, calcium, iron and vitamin K. Medjool dates were originally brought to the United States from Morocco.

    “While Americans typically lag behind their counterparts in Europe and the Middle East in their appreciation of Medjools and other dates, ‘Top Date City’ residents were among the first to fully embrace the world’s oldest fruit,” noted Ed O’Malley, president of Datepac, which with the BVMDGA is responsible for 70 percent of the Medjool date crop grown in the United States. “But there are still many culinary enthusiasts who are unaware that Medjool dates are great right out of the box and as a recipe ingredient and topping.”

    A key element of the program is the development and dissemination of new Medjool date recipes and serving ideas for holiday and everyday uses. The new Bard Valley Medjool Date recipe library is available at www.bardmedjool.com and at a new Medjool date-dedicated Facebook page, www.facebook.com/Bard.Medjool.

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