The Jewel of Autumn: Pomegranate

Pomegranates have been cherished for their exquisite beauty, flavor, color, and health benefits for centuries. From their distinctive crown to their ruby red arils, pomegranates are royalty amongst fruit. It was introduced into America by Spanish settlers in 1769, pomegranate is now cultivated in parts of California and Arizona for juice production. Like blueberries, cranberries and green tea, pomegranates are thought to be healthy because they are loaded with antioxidants, which protect cells from damage by compounds called free radicals. In the state of California, the season of the pomegranate is from October through January.

Global production is mainly centred in the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions. Pomegranates are grown also in similar climates in the U.S., South America. Globally, India is the largest producer, Iran seems to be the second largest producer. Even though India is the largest producer, the main part of production is used for domestic consumption. Current pomegranate production in the Southern Hemisphere mostly occurs in Chile, Peru and South Africa. According to industry sources, Turkey, Israel and Spain are the main producers and sources of competition for organic pomegranates. In the state of California in the United States, the season of the pomegranate is from October through January.

Globally, pomegranate usage is on the rise. According to Innova‘s market research, pomegranate is the most popular superfruit flavor as it was contained in more than 40 percent of beverage launches from June 2008 to May 2013 that featured superfruit flavors; Acai, with 12 percent, was second. The demand is outstripping supply in the United States mainly because of the health benefits that have been discovered. It used to be that the pomegranate wound up as a decoration in a fruit bowl, but now it is highly sought after for eating or juicing because of the great health benefits. The number one pomegranate export market for the United States is Canada. It is followed by: Korea, Taiwan, Australia, Japan, Mexico and Russia.

According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, the United States had 1.056 farms growing pomegranates on 32.887 acres. In 2011, California had an estimated 30,000 acres of pomegranates. California has responded to the increasing domestic interest. From 2006 to 2009, the number of acres dedicated to California Pomegranates jumped from 12,000 to 30,000, and it continues to increase. Pomegranate is absolutely on trend! Globally the market is expanding and it is anticipated that U.S. will follow this trend.

U.S. domestic supply comes largely from California’s San Joaquin Valley, augmented by imports from Israel, Turkey, Lebanon, Greece and Mexico. 40 percent of total fresh market production is exported. Korea, Canada, Taiwan, Japan and Brazil are the top 5 buyers of California pomegranates.

After long period, India started exporting pomegranates to U.S. market in May 2016. On August 10, 2016, the U.S. Department of Agriculture ruled in favor of allowing Peruvian pomegranates into the U.S.,, provided pest management protocol is followed. The decision could prove to be an especially lucrative one for growers in Peru, as the Trans-Pacific Partnership reduces tariffs on most Peruvian produce to zero.