"Pomegranates are strong trees with a great adaptation capability. Nonetheless, the frost in late March and early April stressed them a lot. Now all we can do is wait for blossoming to restart and for temperatures to increase, otherwise the campaign will be late (it usually starts in early September) with effects on the yields per hectare," explains Mauro Picardo, president of the MelogranoVita cooperative.
The cooperative is located in Pesaro (PU), in Marche, and gathers 30 people who wish to invest in the development of the territory. They research and experiment new pomegranate rooting and processing methods and, in 2016, they invested to select some of the most prestigious and unique varieties in the Mediterranean: Mollar, Parfianca, Acko, Hicaz, Dente di Cavallo and Wonderful-one.
The cooperative provides support to all growers who approach such an innovative production for the local territory. The young team takes advantage of the know-how made available by the founders to offer clients Italian pomegranates of a high quality standard. Aggregation seems the only way to be able to compete, especially when it comes to finding outlets for such a niche regional production which only covers around one hundred hectares.
There is plenty of room to grow, considering demand is lively for this product compared to that for the foreign fruits, so there is the will to invest in a production that is quite profitable. This is met by the growing popularity of juices with exceptional nutritional and functional qualities.
In addition to the fresh produce, MelogranoVita produces pomegranate juice available in 200 ml glass bottles and obtained by cold pressing freshly-harvested organic fruits. The target are consumers looking for natural products free from preservatives, artificial aromas, colorings and acidity stabilizers. The juice boasts a deep flavor and is obtained simply by crushing the arils and pasteurizing and bottling what obtained.
The 2020 pomegranate campaign was characterized by excellent quality fruits and average volumes. Yields per hectare were a standard 30ton/hectare. 2020 was characterized by weird weather as well, with spring frost in April, though there was no damage to fruits.
"The objective is to complete the chain and obtain top-of-the-range products. Together with the University of Ancona, we are also studying how to improve the shelf-life of our juice. The objective is to focus on research to obtain a high-quality juice which preserves the organoleptic qualities of the raw material without pasteurization, which requires high temperatures."
MelogranoVita's future plans include managing the production of pomegranate products, which are currently made by third-party companies.