Following on from a Peruvian government announcement in June, the U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has officially opened the doors for imports of the South American country's pomegranates and figs.
In two new rules that will be made effective today, the U.S. authorities have determined commercial consignments of both fruits can be safely imported with safeguards like irradiation in place to prevent the introduction of plant pests.
The measures are a little bit different for each fruit. While figs will only need to be irradiated and inspected upon arrival in the continental United States, pomegranates will also have to be inspected in Peru.
At www.freshfruitportal.com we spoke with Miguel Bentín, who is the vice president of Peruvian pomegranate association ProGranada and general manager with grower Valle y Pampa.
"In fact it's a great breakthrough for us, as an association and an industry," he said.
"This comes at an ideal time because with the opening of the United States what we have managed to get is an outlet to be able to better distribute our supply to the world - it's great for everyone."
He says irradiation is, in technical terms, the best treatment possible, especially for pomegranates as the fruit is very sensitive to other phytosanitary controls like cold treatment and fumigation.
"In this sense, irradiation is not just safer but more innocuous in terms of quality."
He said Valle y Pampa would do some test shipments this year in a small quantity via airfreight.
In commercial terms, the main export deal will be via seafreight starting in February next year and run until June or July.
He said volumes for 2017 would be up 15-25% on this year's crop.
Click here for an in-depth interview with a U.S. pomegranate marketer and his plans for sourcing Peruvian supply.