A year-round supply programme for fresh Indian pomegranates looks set to provide Kay Bee Exports with a new window of opportunity in the US, after the Maharastra-based company became the first to export the fruit to the North American market.
Kay Bee Exports chief executive Kaushal Khakhar said the offering would complement domestic production of the fruit in the US.
“India is the only country in the world with 365 day availability and fresh harvest,” Khakhar said. “This allows us to ship pomegranates to all parts of the world during the receiving country’s off-season. We are excited at being able to ship the first fruit to the US and we look forward to working with new customers and promote this excellent fruit from India.”
The landmark first consignment was made up of the Bhagwa pomegranate variety, renowned for its soft seeds and sweet taste. Prior to being airfreighted to the US, the shipment underwent irradiation treatment at 400Gy.
Kay Bee Exports has been shipping Indian mangoes to US for the past ten years by using irradiation. Khakhar was pleased the same treatment has now been approved by the USDA for pomegranates.
“The irradiation process eliminates quarantine pests and at the same time extends shelf-life and improves flavor,” he explained.
Khakhar said securing market access was the result of sustained efforts by the Indian National Plant Protection Organisation (NPPO), Apeda and Maharashtra state government authorities. “It is the untiring efforts of these various government agencies which has culminated into the first shipment,” he added.
Kay Bee Exports also operates a high-care, hand-extracted pomegranate arils facility. As cut fruits, the arils have been allowed to be shipped the US for several years.