The pomegranate season in South Africa started in late February and South African grower Brent Geddes explains that it has been another successful one for his company Pomona.
“We have doubled production for the third year running, we now have 1000 tonnes, 600 of which will go for export. This is only our third commercial year but the quality is better this year than last, we had good growing conditions in Cape Town this season, it was not particularly easy though. There was a lot of rain at the flowering period and the humidity caused a lot of growers to have problems with rot, luckily we have a very good spraying program and were not seriously affected.”
Pomona export to the UK, Europe, the Middle East, Singapore and Africa and the main problem they have is keeping up with demand. Geddes said the demand has always been there but is increasing every year, “South Africa is not a big supplier of pomegranates so the volumes exported are still relatively small. We can’t yet commit to programs with big retailers as we don’t have the volumes, in fact we could have sold this years crop four times over.”
Despite the increase in volumes from Pomona the actual export from South Africa will stay the same as last year, due the problems some growers had during flowering. Pomona are on track to increase production to 3000 tonnes very quickly.
This year for the first time the fruit will be marketed under the Pomona brand in 4kg cartons.
The European market is very short at the moment explains Geddes, “The last of the Israeli and Turkish pomegranates are finishing up, leaving South Africa as the only supplier to Europe.”
Demand from the domestic market is also increasing, Geddes explains that until a year ago there were very few pomegranates on the shelves and what was available was bad quality and good quality pomegranates were too expensive for the everyday consumer. This is now changing and availability and demand are increasing slowly.
Although Pomona are not actively seeking new markets they will send the first airfreight pomegranates to Kong Hong this week. Geddes say this market demands big sizes and the very best quality, but if you can supply that then the rewards are good.