U.S.: California's Wonderful pomegranate crop forecast lower

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U.S.: California's Wonderful pomegranate crop forecast lower

Various orchards in California began picking Wonderful pomegranate varieties for the season, according to Pomegranate Council.

The San Joaquin Valley was the earliest area to begin harvesting.

There will be a consistent increase in volumes until the second week of October, the Council said. After that point, all growing areas are expected to be harvesting, which will continue through November.

Due to heavy wind and rain during pomegranate bloom, industry field managers say that harvest will likely be down between 15-20% this year.

California will ship an estimated 5.1m boxes of fresh market pomegranates this season. This number is down from 6.3m the previous season.

These numbers are comparable to those reported in 2017 when pomegranate trees were recovering from a drought in the region.

However, Anthony says this year's harvest has "high color, size and sugar" which is what the Wonderful variety "is justly famous" for.

Consumer perception central to marketing pomegranates

Pom Wonderful's director of sales for fresh, arils and beverage products, David Anthony, encourages retailers to promote the "exceptionally high nutrition value of the fruit".

The Council stated that the "steady march upward in per capita consumption" of the fruit is influenced by consumers' perception of its nutritional value.

Moreover, Anthony stated that foodservice and retail industries should showcase arils. Arils are the red seeds which people commonly use in fall and winter dishes.

Anthony points to testing which he suggests "confirms that merchandising and promoting arils in the berry section maximizes sales".

Looking forward, distribution will focus on increasing consumption among key Midwest retailers. As Jeff Simonian of Simonian Fruit states, "retailers on both coasts tend to have higher consumption indices."

Anthony said that retailers should emphasize that pomegranates "are no longer perceived as a 'holiday' fruit".

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