Pomegranates: increasing production, consumption and competition

The popularity of pomegranates is on the rise. Of the many varieties of this exotic fruit, the Wonderful, which was introduced about 15 years ago in California by POM Wonderful, is the most famous worldwide. There are also many upcoming new varieties and numerous producing countries, including India, Israel, Tunisia, Peru, Iran and Turkey. In almost all of them there is a growth in both production and consumption. Competition in the coming years is expected to be fierce due to increasing volumes and this will probably also affect prices. Pomegranates are not only used for fresh consumption, but they are also increasingly more used for convenience products. Both the seeds and juice have also become very popular.

Turkey - Hicaz
Turkey is an important and growing player in the pomegranate market. The acreage is increasing annually in different regions. The country's fruit is available from October to March. Ten to fifteen years ago, prices were very high, because the production was not so great, but now the market has stabilised. Turkey is a major competitor for Spain. Well-known varieties grown in Turkey include the Hicaz, Wonderful and Caner. The Hicaz is the most produced and most consumed in Turkey. This variety is available from September to March. The Hicaz and Wonderful are quite similar, although the Wonderful is sweeter. The Caner is the cheapest of the three.

Tunisia - small seeds
Tunisia is also a growing player in the pomegranate market and production is on the rise. According to statistics, hundreds of hectares are being prepared for the production of this exotic fruit. Tunisian pomegranates are known for their good quality, sweet flavour and small seeds. The main production region is Gabes and the most extended variety is the Gabsi. The season overlaps with Turkey and Egypt. Exports go to European countries, such as Germany and Italy, and opportunities are also sought in the Middle East. Tunisian pomegranates are in the higher price segment, so they look for markets that appreciate quality and are willing to pay the right price for it.

Iran - Aims to increase exports
Iran does not have a production at the moment, but the season will start again in September. The country does not import; it has a huge production and it also exports, although it is facing some problems in the export process. The country hopes to be able to access new destinations worldwide and for exports to increase in the years ahead. Domestic consumption is considerable. 

India - Unique varieties
The Indian pomegranate production is growing by 20 to 25% every year. Demand is on the rise, both at domestic level and in the export market. India is the only country able to deliver pomegranates all year round thanks to its climate. The best-known variety in India is the Bhagwa, a huge sweet variety of really good quality. India is a big player and exports to destinations in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. The country is also expecting to enter the U.S. market. India competes with various players in the world, but it manages to stand out with unique varieties. The trend in India is convenience; pomegranates are widely appreciated and the seeds are really popular amongst consumers.

China - Tunisian variety popular
The prices of pomegranates in China increased last year after 40% of the harvest was lost due to the impact of hail. The harvest season starts in August and lasts until November. A Tunisian variety is the most popular because of its sweet taste. Most Chinese pomegranates are grown in the Henan region. Two-thirds are sold on the local market and there are no imports from other countries.

South America - Argentina
Due to the colder spring, the harvest of certain fruits, including pomegranates, was delayed this season. Last year around this time, the Wonderful harvest had already started, but at this time only the early varieties are available, including the Acco, Emek, 116, Shany and Camel. The Wonderful pomegranate harvest is expected to kick off on 10 March. The prospects are good, with average sizes and good prices. Argentina exports to different countries and this year it will likely increase its shipments to North America. A promising potential new customer is neighbouring Brazil. There are also good prospects in Asian countries. Central Europe is expected to pay the same prices as last season.

South America - Peru
For several years, there has been a significant increase in the export and production of pomegranates in Peru. This trend will continue, as demand is still on the rise. The main customers are Europe, the UK, Canada and Asian countries. Peru hopes to soon be allowed to export to the U.S., where it is currently not allowed to sell its pomegranates due to phytosanitary reasons. For Peru, this would be a godsend, because it could thus better spread its sales. The harvest is currently on-going in Peru. Other suppliers during (parts of) the Peruvian season are Argentina, Chile and South Africa. Peruvian exporters are now facing some competition from suppliers in the northern hemisphere, including Turkey, but in a few weeks the country will have access to a wider market gap. Prices this season are expected to be lower than last year, partly because of the lower exports during the first weeks of the season due to competition with the fruit from the northern hemisphere.

South America - Uruguay
Uruguay is a small producer compared with other countries in South America. The fruit grown there is mainly sold domestically. The product is not unknown in Uruguay, but pomegranates have only been grown commercially since 2007. There is now a pilot project underway with growers and more than 80 varieties expected to be included in this process. The Wonderful variety is well known on the local market and it also yields good results. Given that there is not really a stable production, exports are not an option yet. In the next few years, an increase is expected in the acreage and production volumes should be able to cover the needs of the domestic market. When there are shortages, imports are usually made from Argentina. Currently, the prices are good because there is only a limited supply.

US - California
The pomegranate harvest in California will probably be 10 to 15% lower this year, partly due to a water shortage and to the fact that some producers have decided to stop to try growing other (more profitable) products. There has thus been a decline in the acreage because growers are earning enough from the crop. About 40% of the pomegranate harvest is exported to markets around the world, especially to countries around the Pacific, including South Korea, Taiwan, Australia, Japan and Mexico. Export prospects are similar to last year's. The Californian season lasts from October to March. Last season yielded good results, despite the drought, and as things stand now, growers are optimistic about the next campaign.

Australia - growing production
Several years ago, pomegranates were still relatively unknown in Australia, but things have changed. People have become more familiar with it and consumption is on the rise. One of the largest producers is PomLife, which has an area of ​​about 110 hectares in Victoria, in the Goulburn Valley. They start with the harvest in March and the prospects are good. Despite the fact that the weather conditions during the growing season have not been ideal, the pomegranates are of good quality. Australia also imports some pomegranates, since the domestic production is not big enough. The largest part of the production is intended for fresh consumption. Since some of the fruit goes also to the frozen food sector, it is possible to consume local fruit almost all year round. Consumption should increase in the years ahead, as Australians are increasingly convinced of the fruit's health benefits.

The Netherlands - rising demand
The Netherlands is currently at the end of the Israeli season and prices are fine at the moment. There are some early shipments from Peru on the market, which arrived by air. The peak in the supply from this country is expected in over a month. The gap between Israel and Peru is filled with fruit from South Africa. In the Netherlands, the demand for pomegranates is on the rise, mostly as a result of the health benefits of this exotic product.

Belgium - import volume doubled in five years
The pomegranate market in Belgium is not a niche market anymore. In the next few years, importers expect the situation to change from slight stagnation to slight growth. This will be achieved in various ways, especially via promotions of the fruit's health properties and by chefs using the product. A major Belgian importer pointed out that the import volume has doubled in the last five years. Pomegranates are available year-round and come from all over the world. The main origins are Spain, Turkey, Israel, Iran, Egypt, India, South Africa, Peru, Chile and the US. India has the greatest pomegranate cultivation. They have a good local consumption and limited exports. The variety Wonderful is the most popular in Belgium and has already been available in this market for more than ten years. The Pom is also well-known for its deep red, even colour and super sweet flavour. Other well-known varieties are the Mollar, Baghwa, Hershkovitz, Akko, Hicaz and Emek.

Italy - Higher production
Italian growers in both the south and north of the country are increasingly interested in the cultivation of pomegranates. In Sicily, pomegranates are harvested from September to November and are available until March. Volumes are limited. Another area is Puglia, where the season runs from September to January. Production in the south is mainly intended for fresh consumption and in the north for processing. Italy's production volumes are expected to increase in the coming years. This applies namely to the varieties Acre and Wonderful. At the moment, pomegranate prices are high. Imports are made from India by air. There are some additional costs involved in the removal of the seeds. If the domestic volume increases, it would be interesting for Italy to invest more in machinery for this purpose.

Spain - More competition
The Spanish pomegranate season is over. Sales last year started well, but fell in October and November. The most commonly grown variety is the Mollar, which originates from the Elche region. This is also the largest growing region in Spain for pomegranates. The product is also cultivated in Valencia, Andalusia, Murcia and Extremadura. Growers are switching to new varieties, such as the Smith and Acco. The Wonderful is also widely grown. The most demanded varieties are those with an attractive colour. About 30% of the production is sold domestically. The cultivation of pomegranates in Spain is rapidly expanding, but this is also the case for competitors such as Israel, Morocco, Pakistan, Turkey and Morocco. This means that competition will increase in the coming years. Russia used to be a key market for Spanish pomegranates. Since Israel and Turkey are allowed to ship there, Spain had expected to face less competition in other export markets, but this was not the case. Now Spanish exporters are seeking new customers in the Middle East and Asia.

Germany - Stability
In Germany, the demand for pomegranates is growing every year and imports are on the rise. Currently, there is Turkish fruit on the market, mainly of Hicaz variety. Besides Turkey, Germany also imports pomegranates from Egypt, Iran, the US and Greece. Demand is currently stable; prices in Berlin stand around 7 Euro for a 4 kilo box.

Greece - Increasing demand for juices
In Greece, pomegranates are growing in popularity. The season starts in September with the Akko variety and the main variety is the Afrata. The Wonderful is also grown in this country. The season has yielded satisfactory results, although production was lower than expected. The crisis in Greece has had a big impact on the fruit market, although the domestic consumption has still remained at a good level. There is a growing demand for juices.

Every week, FreshPlaza and AGF.nl publish an overview of the market situation of a product in a global context. With these articles these articles we aim to provide a view of a global market shrinking due to globalisation. Next time, cabbage will be in the spotlight.

Publication date:

Receive the daily newsletter in your email for free | Click here

Other news in this sector:

Sign up for our daily Newsletter and stay up to date with all the latest news!

Subscribe I am already a subscriber