Pomelo harvesting is well underway in California and the crop is looking good. “Pomelos are generally first harvested in late October by a lot of people,” says Tony Marquez from Pearson Ranch. “I think the volume this year will be a bit more, and in the future, there will be more Pomelos available because there are a few more people starting to grow them. The future looks bright for this fruit.”
Supply is coming from the Central San Joaquin Valley largely and harvesting will continue there until March.
As for demand, Marquez says it’s about average at this point. “At the start of the season, people are looking for some new citrus when the fall starts moving into winter because people know citrus is a winter crop,” he says. The fruit is also still somewhat newer in the category compared to more familiar citrus items such as lemons or oranges. “Demand starts to pick up then through the winter months as it gets dark and dreary and people want a taste of sunshine so to speak,” says Marquez.
Pomelo awareness growing
However, the big demand push for Pomelos will be for the Lunar New Year which this year takes place February 10 and Marquez is anticipating particularly strong demand for 2024's Year of the Dragon celebration. He also feels that consumption is growing overall on the fruit. “Twenty-five years ago, Pomelos were kind of obscure except for within the Asian culture where the symbolism of Pomelos during the Lunar New Year represents good luck, prosperity and good health,” he says.
While generally, awareness is growing for a wider variety of produce within the population, Pomelos are also getting a boost of awareness thanks to social media and even being featured occasionally on cooking shows. “As people become more aware of them, they’re more willing to try them and because they have less of that bitterness to them, I think people appreciate them more over a regular grapefruit.”
As for pricing, it’s steady. Pomelos don’t fluctuate in pricing as much as oranges do for example because there are fewer of them.