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US: POM Wonderful's seeds of success from Fresno County

POM Wonderful may be a brand known all around the world but it is also one produced entirely here in Fresno County.

All of its products are locally grown and produced. This year the company will make more than a million gallons of pomegranate juice. Bottles of POM Wonderful pomegranate juice processed every day in a Del Rey plant are headed across the US and 17 other countries.

The company has seen explosive growth in the last decade, going from zero to over 100 million dollars in sales.

Jill Costelow is Director of Beverage and Technical Services. She said, "It's a great feeling to think that something from the central valley, that's grown in the central valley, that's a product the local economy and local employees are proud of. It's great to think that you can ship it all over the world."

POM Wonderful products, whether its juice, tea, fresh fruit or packages of arils are all locally grown on 18,000 acres.

The plant employs over 1,500 people during the peak harvest, roughly the same number of people who live in the town of Del Rey.

Vice president of Manufacturing Tracy Fornwalt said, "We bring in about 200 truckloads a day during our fresh harvest of pomegranates. Each one of those is about 50,000 pounds of fruit."

Every day during harvest season pomegranates are delivered, pressed, clarified and evaporated but it's not enough to just make the juice.

POM Wonderful also makes its uniquely shaped bottles at its 450 acre facility. It starts with a piece of heated resin.

Costelow explained, "We actually make our pre forms that forms the neck of the bottle and then we turn around and blow mold it into the actually shape of the bottle itself the double bubble shape."

The logo is then silk-screened onto the bottle.

The company's phenomenal growth led it to build a new café and workout area for employees. Fornwalt said, "It's a great benefit. In this day and age it's unusual to find owners that are willing to invest in their employees."

The company name is extremely recognizable but you might now know the POM Wonderful brand is named for a specific variety of pomegranate - wonderful.

Pomegranates from different orchards can have different characteristics so, similar to wine, an expert panel must taste every batch and then blend the product to keep the taste of the juice consistent.


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