Short California crop brings higher pomegranate prices

The pomegranate season in California finished a little earlier than normal this year. A lighter crop meant the harvest was shorter and growers are now concentrating on shipping the fruit out. The drop in volume was close to initial estimates made at the start of the season. Once the California stock is exhausted, shipments from South America in the northern Spring will be the next primary source. 

"There was a short crop of pomegranates this season," said Jeff Simonian, of Simonian Fruit Company. The harvest began in late August, early September and finished up in early November. Yield was down around 20% which was close to pre-season forecasts. There was also some rain from the middle to the end of October which accelerated picking. The fruit cracks when it rains and growers wanted to make sure they got their crop in. Sizing was near normal with a good representation across categories. The next source for pomegranates will be Peru starting in March, followed by Chile in May."

Tight supplies create strong market
The market for pomegranates continues to be strong, due to limited supplies. The majority of growers have packed their fruit and are well on their way to selling it out. Demand is solid across the board with the East Asian market also showing strong demand for US pomegranates. A number of exporters have had problems exporting product to Korea this year due to rigorous testing.

"The market has been good with the reduced supply," Simonian said. "In the larger size category, prices are in the high $20s, into the low $30s. With the lower supply, there is a higher demand and we don't expect prices to drop for the remainder of the season. Most Californian growers will have finished shipping by Christmas."

"Demand for US pomegranates has also been solid in the East Asian market," he added. "However, some growers have had difficulty getting product into Korea due to failing tests for fungal infections and pests."

More organic fruit and Peru supply to enter second year
The noteworthy take-away from this season was the big jump in the amount of organic fruit that was grown in California. Additional demand has created a market for organic varieties and more growers are turning to them. Also, the Peru season is set to enter its second year after an apparently successful trial earlier this year.

"One main difference from previous years was that there was more organic fruit around," Simonian noted. "There is a space in the market that has opened to organic pomegranates and some growers have transitioned over from conventionally grown fruit. Another aspect to note is that earlier this year we saw the first Peru pomegranates arrive. There was hardly any volume in that deal as they wanted to test the market. Next March, we will again see shipments from Peru and we expect a greater volume this time round."

For more information: 
Jeff Simonian
Simonian Fruit Company
Tel: +1 (559) 834-5307

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