“I am of the opinion that the pomegranate will become the little brother of the avocado as part of a healthy lifestyle,” Elena Rogojnikova, senior buyer for Hagé International, comes straight to the point. The pomegranate, which is better-known in the south of Europe than in the north, is getting rid of its exotic image. The fruit proudly wears the title ‘superfood,’ and that boosts demand.
“The pomegranate is known as a superfood because of its iron and antioxidant levels,” Elena says. “They are chock-full of healthy nutrients and vitamins. They are also known to have a decreasing effect on the risk of cardiovascular diseases.” Consumers are buying pomegranates increasingly often. Compared to last year, demand has increased. “Pomegranate was not the most obvious fruit for consumers in the past. It was better-known as a product for the ethical kitchen. By now, more and more people are using the pomegranate in juice or in salads or in other recipes.”
In order to guarantee supply year-round, Hagé International imports from various countries, including Peru, Argentina, South Africa and Israel. The market for pomegranates peaks around Christmas and January as a result of New Year’s resolutions. This year, however, demand for Wonderful pomegranates is extra high. “Because of weather circumstances in California, supply of Pom Wonderful will be problematic this year,” Elena explains. “We therefore expect more demand for Wonderful pomegranates from other countries. We have already noticed demand for Israeli pomegranates increasing sharply.”
The season for Israeli pomegranates started slightly earlier with the early strains. “These are of excellent quality, so we also started earlier,” says Elena. “Demand was stable at the start of the season, and we traditionally expect the peak to be around Christmas and in the month of January.” In January, the pomegranate profits from its image as superfood, which increases demand. But it is important to keep informing consumers about this exotic, according to Elena. “We regularly do that by organising tastings and promotional actions for our retail customers.”
Six years ago, Hagé International professionalised the import of exotics, and that is bearing fruit. Besides major exotics such as avocado, mango, persimmon and lime, Hagé International is also active in the import of lychee, papaya and passionfruit. “Hagé International attaches great importance to sustainability and food safety,” Elena concludes. “All of our suppliers have been GlobalGAP certified, and we also take IDH very seriously. The suppliers we work with, must have certificates such as BSCI, Rain Forest, SMETA and SIZA.” The company supplies the products to major retailers both domestic and international. For pomegranates, Scandinavia, the Baltic States, Eastern Europe and Russia are good export markets.
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