India is targeting the US as a potential new market for its pomegranates, as part of its bid to become the world’s leading pomegranate supplier.
The Indian government is understood to have already conducted a Pest Risk Analysis for USDA clearance, and exporters anticipate market access “soon”.
“The US seems to be the most high-potential market for Indian pomegranates,” Kaushal Khakhar CEO of leading pomegranate distributor Kay Bee Exports told Fruitnet. “There is a likelihood that the fruit might get access soon.”
India, which ranks as the world’s top pomegranate producer in volume terms with annual production of around 500,000 tonnes, has seen its pomegranate sales double year-on-year in the last five years as domestic and export demand soared in the wake of widely-publicised health claims.
Indian growers are rapidly increasing their pomegranate plantings to meet escalating international demand and capitalise on high sales prices, according to Mr Khakhar.
“Indian growers in particular have benefited from the huge disparity in world pomegranate supply and demand, since their low production costs and year-round yields allow them to reap very high returns,” he said.
“As a result, they – encouraged by government incentives – are increasing their pomegranate acreage, at a rate of 30-40 per cent a year.”
Last year, Indian pomegranate acreage was pegged at 63,000ha, with key producer regions located in the state of Karnataka in the south, and Maharashtra in the west. New plantations are springing up in northern and central regions too.
But despite the dramatic rise in acreage, national production this year is forecast to rise just 10 per cent above last season due to a bacterial blight disease that struck several orchards across India, according to Mr Khakhar.
Growing conditions have been excellent over the last few months, though, with optimal rain, which augurs well for the fruit over coming winter season, he said.
Bhagwa is the primary variety exported to India’s core markets in the Middle East and Europe.