French pomegranate season has begun
The pomegranate harvest in France is in full swing at the moment and lasts for a month. There are only 3 or 4 pomegranate producers in France, so volume is low, reaching about 100 tons (at least 10 or 20 times that amount is imported into France). Christophe Gourgas grows pomegranates in the Languedoc-Roussillon, he produces about 20-25 tons a year that is processed into juice.
The weather has been good for production in his region and that the trees are healthy. He has been producing pomegranates for 5 years now and says that demand has increased for both the fruit and juice. Every year he increases volume, but there is always a slight lack.
"Pomegranate consumption is very recent and only really just beginning. Pomegranates have increased in popularity over the last 5 or 6 years thanks to recent studies showing the many health benefits. Whilst pomegranates were not produced commercially in France until very recently, they have always grown in peoples gardens. "
Most pomegranates produced in France are processed into juice. The fruit found whole in supermarkets, in general, is imported from countries including Spain, Turkey and Israel. Pomegranates produced in Spain are also harvested over a one month period and processed into juice, or kept in fridges until January when production from Turkey or Morocco arrives on the market.
"French production tends to stay on the French market. More could be produced, but the producers need to be sure to have contracts first. "
Mr Gourgas has 1,000 trees (representing about 15,000-20,000 litres of juice), he has been producing for 5/6 years so it is a new orchard, but he can plant more trees if there is a demand for it. He explains that a fully mature tree produces about 50/60kg of fruit and that 3kg is needed for one litre of juice.
Pomegranate prices tend to be stable, Mr Gourgas says that “it is already an expensive fruit” and sells his product for the same price as imported pomegranate juice (€7-€7.50/litre). He supplies some supermarkets for slightly less so they can have their margin. "Whilst the price is the same (or sometimes €0.10-0.20 more) the quality of the French pomegranates is much better. My clients used to have no choice but to import from Turkey as there were no French pomegranates, and they say that in comparison the French ones are much better."
Mr Gourgas does not use any chemical products, he even sometimes produces organically, it depends. He explains that pomegranates don’t actually need to be organic as they grow on their own and don’t have diseases. Pesticides are not needed as even if the outside is slightly dark or eaten, the grains inside are perfectly fine.
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Publication date: 10/5/2017
Author: Emma de La Croix
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