"On 3 October 2021, we harvested the first batches of pomegranates, which we packed immediately; they will be sold through retailers. The season has been heavily affected by weather conditions. I am talking about the frosts of late March and early April and the lack of natural water reserves due to the lack of rain in the last five months," said Mauro Picardo, president of the Italian cooperative MelogranoVita.
MelogranoVita is an organization from Pesaro, in the Marche region, with the aim of investing resources in a crop that has attracted consumer interest over the last 10 years. The cooperative is committed to researching new techniques for harvesting and processing pomegranates. Since 2016, investments have been made in the most valuable and special varieties from the Mediterranean region: Mollar, Parfianca, Acko, Hicaz, Dente di Cavallo and Wonderful-One. The cooperative, which started with 30 members, is growing steadily and has an area of about 65 hectares. Thanks to its high degree of specialization, it has gained a reputation on the markets.
"We are expecting a loss of 30-40% this season. We will not have more than 330 tons of fruit available, both for the fresh market and for processing. The harvest has started with Acko and Mollar and then we will continue with Wonderful-One and then the other later varieties. Compared to last year, we are about 10 days later, with the aim of supplying a product with a higher sugar content. In general, fruit that is on the shelves at the right stage of ripeness is particularly appreciated by consumers."
In addition to fresh fruit, MelogranoVita also includes pomegranate juice, available in 200ml bottles. This is obtained by cold pressing freshly picked organic pomegranates. It is a natural product, without additives, artificial flavorings and colorings and without addition of acid stabilizers.
The raw materials are processed into juice in cooperation with a specialized company and an innovative pasteurization process that preserves the nutritional properties.
As part of the innovations in the process, the company is collaborating with the Department of Agricultural Sciences at the University of Ancona on new techniques for pressing and pasteurizing the juice, using lower temperatures and especially shorter processing hours.
"The pomegranate is experiencing a growing trend, mainly because consumers are more and more attentive to having a healthier diet and a crop that is 100% Italian. Considering the lower harvest compared to last year, we expect at least a market with the same prices as last year, around €2.00 to €2.20. It is clear that the early varieties are more profitable, as expectations for the Italian crop are high."
"To cope with climate emergencies, we are studying the management of irrigation water, as this resource is becoming less and less available due to the effects of climate change. We recommend that growers collect rainwater in reservoirs or pits during the winter period. We do not expect the climate to improve, so we are also looking for agreements with irrigation designers to store water in winter and use it in summer," concluded Mauro Picardo.