Peruvian pomegranates face US export protocols

"When the irradiated sticker is placed on the boxes, people no longer buy them"

The challenges involved in the shipping of Peruvian pomegranates, as well as the protocols established at the destination markets, such as the United States, where they are required to be irradiated, are preventing this fruit from tapping into its international potential.

Antonio Bustamante, manager of Agroinca, said that although North America appears as an important market for this fruit in the general statistics, this is mostly thanks to Canada, since the United States only imports 40 to 50 Peruvian containers that need to go through an irradiation process, which noticeably reduces their value. "When the irradiated sticker is placed (on the boxes), they no longer buy them (in the US market)," he said.

The entrepreneur used Argentina as an example. This country exports directly to the United States by subjecting the fruit to cold treatment, which prevents the need for irradiation. Adopting this protocol could help sell much of Ica's pomegranate production in the North American market.

Bustamante also cited the case of China, which is a country that consumes a lot of pomegranates, but where the Peruvian fruit doesn't arrive. Other Asian markets such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia do receive it, but the Chinese market is larger than all of them combined, so it would be important to gain access there.

“If we did this, we wouldn't have to resort to other varieties, such as the Acco or Smith (the most common in Peru is the Wonderful) in order to start earlier and gain a little market share. We know that it is a difficult product to export and that it must be shipped by air, which reduces the profits for the companies," he said.

Lastly, he expressed his confidence in the future of this fruit, given the good experience in Europe, especially in Germany, and the potential to grow in fresh, powder and juice presentations. There are even supermarkets where orange juice machines also dispense pomegranate juice, which is opening up good options for discarded fruit.



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