Grocery stores in San Antonio sold thousands of dates ahead of Ramadan. Here’s why.

San Antonio’s international food markets are expected to be packed in the coming days as Muslims flock to buy dates and other staples ahead of the holy month of Ramadan, which begins April 2.

In recent weeks, large shipments of boxes of dates have arrived at local stores in anticipation of demand from Muslim customers. The sweet fruit is a popular and key Ramadan treat that is traditionally eaten to break the fast at sunset after a day of abstinence from food and drink.

Texas has the fifth largest Muslim population in the country, according to a 2022 report by the World Population Review. For every 100,000 people in Texas, about 1,678 are Muslim.

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San Antonio has a large Muslim population on the northwest side. Purchases of food items, including dates, are usually done before Ramadan. Some stores told the Express-News they were expecting last-minute shoppers on Friday and in the early days of Ramadan.

Ali Baba’s International Food Market, located near the medical center, sold 50% of its stock of dates, or about 400 boxes, last week.

The market sells different types of dates from places like California and others from as far away as Saudi Arabia. Boxes vary in size from small 1 pound boxes of a few dates to around 11 pounds.

“We now have about 400 boxes left, and we will definitely sell more (Friday evening),” said Sami Nahel, the store manager.

Aladdin International Food Market, located near the University of Texas at San Antonio, had 1,000 boxes of dates early last week and has since sold 300, said store manager Ali Saleh.

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