Pomegranate culture lacking in Europe, says Cypriot grower

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Pomegranate culture lacking in Europe, says Cypriot grower

A Cypriot grower-exporter has cited a general lack of 'pomegranate culture' amongst European consumers, but is determined to expand his markets and push the polyphenol-rich fruit as a super food. pomegranates panorama

Although the 2013 season for Alnar Narcilik Pomegranates Ltd produced a bumper crop that has completely sold out, owner Ibrahim Kahramanoğlu still believes the potential for pomegranates has still not been fully realized.

"Consumers are still not aware of the health benefits of pomegranates and also it can be seen as a hassle to extract the arils and eat them, but Cyprus has the perfect climatic conditions for growing pomegranates which are a super fruit and leading source of antioxidants," Kahramanoğlu told www.freshfruitportal.com.

"This season we had some pomegranates weighing 1.5kg (3.3lbs) each because we thin the trees during fruit set which causes them to be able to feed the fruit.

"We have weekly consultations about production where our professional consultants give us information about pruning, irrigation, fertilization, pest control, disease management, harvesting and so on."

Despite the fact that pomegranates are not a 'first choice fruit', last year's crop of the Wonderful, Acco and Herskovitz varieties were the best yet for Kahramanoğlu's business, which includes 23 pomegranate growers and has around 100 hectares of orchards in the Morphou region in the northern part of the Mediterranean island.

Pomegranate yields have steadily gone up year on year since the first trees were planted in 2007. Initially around 30kg per tree were harvested, doubling to 60kg by the 2013 crop. Prices were also good last season with the fruit fetching between €1.5–2.3 (US$2-3.10) per kg in port, depending on variety and size of the fruit.

Ibrahim Kahramanoğlu 1

Ibrahim Kahramanoğlu

"We started the season in September with early varieties and continued in October with the Wonderful variety. Generally the pomegranate season was great for us. Our trees are now more than six years old and yields are very good lately. We expect high yields again this season.

"We sold all of our pomegranates which were harvested in 2013 and for the forthcoming season, we are again scheduling to start harvesting in early September and export our products mainly to the U.K. with some going to Sweden, Belgium and Germany. I’m exploring other possible markets as well."

This year Alnar Narcilik is on a mission to push the citrus side of the business and is seeking GlobalG.A.P. accreditation for its Valencia (300 hectares) and King (50 hectares) varieties of oranges which can complement pomegranate sales through European export.

The company, which also makes pomegranate juice for the domestic market, is working on a project to sell ‘ready-to-eat’ arils and is looking at ways to extend the shelf life of the vitamin-rich fleshy seeds.

"We are a unique company because we are producing, harvesting, packing and exporting ourselves without any middlemen. We also produce freshly squeezed pomegranate juice with a brand called ALNAR POMI.

"We are using state-of-the-art machinery to extract arils from the pomegranates and produce the juices from arils without adding any additives. The juice is supplied mainly to the domestic market.

"For the ‘ready to eat’ arils, we are trying very hard to obtain better results because the shelf life is around four to five days which is a very short period of time when considering the export market as well as the local market."



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