The Mollar de Elche PDO pomegranate's campaign will start this week. Producers expect to harvest 40,000 tons of pomegranates this campaign and good-sized high-quality fruits that allow them to increase the number of fruits certified with the quality seal.
According to Francisco Oliva, the president of the PDO, 11,000 tons of the 40,000 tons of pomegranate harvested in 2019 were certified. The production volume achieved last year and the volume expected for this year are lower than the nearly 50,000 tons achieved in a normal season.
"This year's decrease in production has been motivated by two fundamental factors: the rains there were in spring which affected the fruit set, as they took place when the pomegranate crops were in full bloom, and the excess of sun in summer," he stated. However, Oliva added, the reduction in the amount of fruit set this year benefitted the fruit that reached the end of their cycle, as they achieved a higher caliber and higher quality and may meet the requirements to be part of the 'extra' or 'first' category, which are covered by the PDO.
The Mollar de Elche pomegranate is grown on a thousand hectares in the regions of L'Alacantí, Baix Vinalopó, and Vega Baja - the main producing area in Europe - by 600 producers that are dedicated to this crop. According to Oliva, there are around 500 varieties of pomegranates in the world and, unlike the other varieties, the Mollar pomegranate has sweet grains, soft seeds, and an exterior color that ranges between golden-cream and deep red.
Pomegranate consumption in Spain has increased by 20% in just over five years because of this superfruit's healthy properties. As a result of this increase in national demand, Oliva stated, exports have decreased. In the past, producers would export 70% to 80% of the production, now there's better trade balance as 40% to 50% of the production is allocated for the national market and the rest is exported, he said.
The main destination market is France, which still has a lot of room for growth. it is followed by the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Portugal, Italy, other emerging markets located in the Persian Gulf, Southeast Asia, Canada, and Brazil, and the growing demand from the Nordic countries, the president of the PDO stated.