Spain: New promotion outlets for Elche soft-seeded pomegranates
Pomegranates have recently been catching more attention around the globe as consumers become more informed about the fruit’s nutritional values and health benefits.
"In addition to greater demand for pomegranates as fresh fruit, there is growing interest at the international level on the part of the food, pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries in including pomegranate on their lists of ingredients because of its nutritional value," according to GBD Networks' February 2015 report on global pomegranate supply and demand.
At www.freshfruitportal.com, we caught up with Granadas de Elche president Francisco Oliva, to discuss the in-demand fruit and perspectives for his company's unique variety.
The Elche pomegranate recently obtained Designation of Origin (DO) status, and is now protected by the EU's regulatory classification system.
"The soft-seeded Elche pomegranate stands out because of its sweetness, its soft seeds – you can chew the seed – and its external color which oscillates between a cream tone and an intense red," Oliva said.
"There are other pomegranates with these characteristics such as the Wonderful variety which has a redder exterior, but its flavor is more acidic and the seeds are hard.
"The flavor and characteristics of the Elche soft-seeded pomegranate are unique thanks to the favorable climate conditions in the province of Alicante," he said.
The majority of these pomegranates are produced for outside markets. Main destination markets include Germany, the U.K., France and the Netherlands.
Of the roughly 50,000 metric tons (MT) produced in total, about 70% will be exported and 30% will be directed to the domestic market.
"In the last few years, consumption of Spain's Elche pomegranate variety has increased significantly," he said.
Oliva added the Russian ban on European fruits and vegetables had impacted business since the country previously received roughly 30% of Granadas de Elche's exports.
As a result, the company is eyeing other markets to compensate for this loss.
"Countries in Asia and in the East in general are markets which we will focus on, because our fruit is highly valued in these countries. We still have capacity to grow there, and to enter new markets in the area," he said, adding promotional campaigns were undertaken locally as well.
A large portion of the companies involved in the pomegranate business commercialize the fruit as a fresh product, but some companies do sell pomegranates in a processed form for juices, jams, lotions or in Omega 5 pomegranate seed oil capsules.
In recent years, fresh pomegranates have seen an uptick in demand because of the growing trend to consume the nutrient-rich super fruit.
The low-calorie crop is loaded with polyphenols, has anti-inflammatory properties, and an abundance of antioxidants (three times the amount found in green tea or red wine).
According to Oliva, the fruit is mainly consumed fresh, in salads or juices. Either way, pomegranates are much more common to find in kitchens nowadays.
The Granadas de Elche growers and traders association even holds a creative cooking competition for professionals with the aim of encouraging more bars and restaurants to add the fruit to their menus.
The fruit has also ventured into the world of health and beauty products and is now processed for lotions and beauty treatments. Examples include Weleda's pomegranate body care products, Navitas Naturals' Pomegranate Powder, Korres Pomegranate Toner, Murad's Pomegranate Exfoliating Mask, and many more.