Greek pomegranate season finished earlier than expected
The situation is also starting to become difficult in the domestic market, given the current strikes, but fortunately, prices have remained at a similar level as last year which is good, as it isn’t too expensive, and the fruit is becoming popular for juice making. We have consequently developed a strategic plan for next season to produce pomegranate juice,” affirms Mitrakos.
He also assures to be really happy about the quality of the fruit, despite the fact that calibers were a little smaller, because of the weather conditions, but in terms of flavor the quality has been really good.” In any case, he explains that, from now until the end of the summer, Greek consumers will only have access to imported pomegranates, mostly from South America.
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Iran looks to be able to export organic pomegranates
In a more global scale, he affirms that, if we compare it with three years ago, there is now a different situation in the pomegranate market. “Every day, we are sending requests for export to many countries and we receive many inquiries from Italy, France and other countries. I believe that, because of their health properties and antioxidant content, more people are looking for pomegranates.”
Another trend in this sector is the demand for organics. Nouhi explains that some supermarkets ask whether they can supply between 20 and 30% full organic pomegranates. And although there is no 100% organic cultivation in Iran, European countries will accept them if the right procedures are followed.
For next year, UPRO Group are negotiating with the Italians to bring the know-how to be able to start the cultivation, but it will take at least 2-3 years before we can supply large volumes of organic pomegranates.”
Tunisian pomegranates find niche as premium product
Though Tunisia's pomegranate season overlaps with the seasons in Egypt and Turkey, Tunisia's growers don't see themselves as competing with growers from those other countries. On the contrary, Tunisia's pomegranates are carving a niche in the European market as premium fruit.
“For people who consume pomegranates, they know the difference in flavor between a Tunisian pomegranate and one from somewhere else,” said Walid Gaddas of Alyssa Fruits. “They're called seedless, though they actually just have a very small seed, and it's that small, tender seed that makes a difference.” About 30 to 40 percent of the country's pomegranates are grown in the Gabes region, which is renowned for its fruit. Marketing pomegranates from the Gabes region bestows another level of quality.
Sales for both the Gabsi and Tounsi varieties were good this past season, and production was also on par with that from previous years. The price per kilogram was between 1.20 Euro and 1.40 Euro for most of the season. While unable to compete on price, Tunisia's growers still found success in European markets like Italy and Germany, and they're developing markets in the Middle East.
“There were 1,000 hectares of new plantings that were put in place last year. I believe that the production will increase in the coming years, and it will put us in a position to respond to a market that wants more pomegranates.”
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Pomegranate aril sales in Europe expected to grow in the coming months
According to David Levin of the Israeli firm Zohara Farm, which is partnered with the Indian Sam Agritech, “At the moment, there is a really good window for Indian pomegranate arils, since Israel is about to finish. Also, in the southern hemisphere, in countries like South Africa, Peru, Argentina, etc. production is very low. Pomegranate arils are a product with their own niche market, mostly because of their natural antioxidant properties."
In addition to being a very healthy product, pomegranate arils are also growing in popularity cause it is easy to prepare. Arils are gaining popularity in the UK.
"Furthermore, their price doesn’t differ much from that of the whole fruit, not to mention the amount of time it saves,” states Levin. “We are also seeing a rapid growth in the Netherlands and Europe, and they are becoming popular across the world, including South East Asia.”
In this area, he explains that one of his company’s strengths is its ability to supply a consistent quality all year round with a single variety: the Indian Bhagwa. The key is that if satisfied customers come for a second buy and are given a different variety with a different taste or appearance, they will be disappointed.
For the arils, another advantage is that they do the whole process manually, so they can guarantee that 99% of the seeds won’t be damaged, since pomegranate seeds are delicate and need sensitive handling. As regards their packaging, he assures that, after years of trial and error, they have created a format with the right atmosphere for the aril itself and a sealing made from a special material which actually breathes.
In the aril market, Sam Agri and Zohara Farm compete mostly with some local companies in the UK, "But we believe that, in terms of quality standards, we are in the front line and we are working to keep that position. As long as we continue investing in research and development, while managing to supply our clients with the perfect product in terms of right taste (dark red, sweet and less acidic) and the right packaging, the market will grow,” asserts Levin. “It is a product associated with spring, so we hope for a boost in sales in Europe in the coming months.”
Zohara Farm Ltd. (Israel); Sam Agri(India)
Authors: Yzza Ibrahim / Carlos Nunez / Juan Zea Estellés