The pomegranate has gained a lot of popularity both in Turkey and Europe in general. The season for the Turks has been in full swing and the demand seems to be rising. To deal with this rising demand, some farmers are tying to increase the size of the production areas.
Muhsin Riza Agdag is the Export Director for Hatipoglu Tarim, based in Turkey. The exporter deals in a variety of fruits, but currently the pomegranates need its undivided attention. This isn’t a surprise, as the pomegranate is becoming increasingly more important for Turkish exporters: “Turkish pomegranates are consumed at both the local market as well as globally through export. Local customers love pomegranates here. It’s an ancient fruit with lot of story behind it. Some people believe that each pomegranate, has a drop of water from heaven inside. You can understand how important pomegranates are in our culture.” Riza explains.
With demand increasing both on the local market and in terms of export, the Turkish farmers feel they need to step their game up. “Demand is high, especially if we compare it with the last couple of years. I received information that most of the Turkish farmers are trying to increase their acreage, while new starting farmers are also planting pomegranates,” Riza said. “However, if we talk about the prices, it has to be said the pomegranates are not stable. A lot of issues, like the pomegranates sizes, any diseases on it, skin color and damage, production areas and the estimated shelf life all has an impact on the price. I can honestly say that for some areas here, prices have almost doubled. It depends on the quality, of course.”
Despite the farmers wanting to increase their acreages, the current pomegranate season in Turkey will deliver less volumes than last year. It means the focus can be more in quality than before: “I was travelling around for the past two days, checking out production areas. The total volumes for the pomegranate is lower than last season, but it resulted in the farmers being able to spend more time on each. That’s why the fruits are now big in size and with good quality,” Riza stated. “About 30 percent of our total pomegranate production is destined for arils and juice. As Hatipoglu Tarim, we only store exportable pomegranates. This is important, because if we somehow make a mistake and put a damaged pomegranate into our cold store, it will get rotten quickly and could cause the rot to spread to neighboring pomegranates. It’s a hard challenge, as within a limited time we need to pack it carefully.”
In terms of pesticides, Riza is confident they will not have any issues. “We are giving out pesticide lists, including application times and information about diseases for all the farmers. And periodically we do pesticide analyses. As it stands, we are very comfortable with the current pesticide residues on our produce.” Riza concludes.