Now year-round availability due to complementary South American season

California pomegranates available soon

This year’s California pomegranate crop is looking good and hopefully back to normal levels. “During the past two seasons, harvest was stopped prematurely due to unseasonably early rain,” says Tom Tjerandsen with the Pomegranate Council. “Rain causes the fruit to split and 25 percent of harvest was lost to weather,” he added. Tjerandsen is hopeful this year will be back to normal. “We are having the warm days and cool nights that give the fruit its high red color and superior sizing and sugar levels. Since we haven’t had any big heat spikes in July and August, harvest is expected to start at a near normal time.”

Early variety harvest kicks off August 11
Harvest of the early season varieties like Foothill and Granada is expected to start August 11. These varieties will slowly feed into the national distribution system during the second half of August and into September. They account for 30 percent of the total pomegranate crop. On October 5th, harvest of the Wonderful variety is expected to start, which will continue through the end of November. This variety accounts for the remaining 70 percent of total production. 

Domestic pomegranate consumption continues to grow with the majority of demand coming from both coasts. “This is where the more adventurous people are who like to try the fruit variety. Only one out of every four people in the US have had experience with a pomegranate,” said Tjerandsen. This offers the industry significant opportunities, in particular in the middle of the country. 

Large export market
Besides the domestic market, pomegranates have a significant export market, which depending on the year, accounts for 25 to 40 percent of total harvest. “US grown pomegranates are very popular in markets that understand and appreciate the fruit variety,” mentioned Tjerandsen. “Our pomegranates are bigger, brighter and sweeter than the pomegranates grown in any other country in the world. Customers who understand that are willing to pay for it.” Canada is the largest export market buyer of US grown pomegranates, followed by South Korea, Australia, Taiwan and Japan. New Zealand’s demand for US pomegranates is rapidly growing. On average, the US exports between 1 and 2 million boxes of fresh pomegranates annually.

South America complements US market
Domestic pomegranates are available from mid-August until the end of February. Although harvest finishes in November, they are shipped from storage for an additional three months. When the domestic market is finished, Chile starts and ships until about July. “We are also starting to see limited volumes from Argentina,” Tjerandsen added. “South America complements the US market and as a result, retailers now confidently dedicate space to pomegranates year-round.”

For more information: 
Tom Tjerandsen
Pomegranate Council 
Tel: +1 (415) 999-6289

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