A joint venture between Indian pomegranate grower-shipper Sam Agri and Swiss entrepreneur Marcel Bangerter could create over 100 new jobs near Bangalore, India, by next year.

Sam Agri and Bangerter plan to create an exclusive Indo-Swiss 20,000ft2 pomegranate facility that will process 3,000-4,000kgs of pomegranates a day, and could be up and running as soon as 2018.

The venture could create up to 150 new jobs, the companies reveal.

The Sam Agri-Bangerter partnership has already created 20 new jobs at the current Sam Agri pomegranate facility near Bangalore, thanks to the rapid growth of the Swiss business, Sam Agri says.

Bangerter began marketing Sam Agri’s value-added pomegranate products – fresh arils, dried arils, Swiss-chocolate-coated dried arils, and individual pure pomegranate juice servings – in Switzerland under his ZoëRay brand just two years ago.

Sold at high-end Swiss retail outlets, the ZoëRay range is meeting strong demand, Bangerter says. “The juice is retailing two to three times more than the premium price similar juices fetch, and is being sold in Switzerland's version of Harrods,” he tells Fruitnet.

Going forward, Bangerter aims to grow sales in Switzerland, as well as export the ZoëRay pomegranate range across Europe.

A portion of future profits generated by ZoëRay pomegranate sales will be reinvested in India, Bangerter reveals, with a view to paying higher-than-average wages to pomegranate facility employees.

'My aim is to generate more demand and therefore sales of the pomegranate products in Switzerland and elsewhere to then create more jobs and improve livelihoods in India,' said Bangerter, who left a 25-year-long career in investment banking to pursue a career in pomegranates.

Bangerter's passion for pomegranates stems from a difficult time recovering from an aggressive form of cancer.

Doctors recommended he eat pomegranate during his recovery period, but the fruit wasn't available in its ready-to-eat form in Switzerland, so Bangerter and his wife spent a messy time preparing the fruit in their kitchen.

Bangerter was so impressed with the fruit’s health benefits that he recommended it to friends and former colleagues, who in turn asked him to prepare it for them.

It was on a trip to Dubai in 2013 that Bangerter and his wife discovered a pack of ready-to eat arils in a supermarket. On his return home he traced the fruit back to Sam Agri in India.

And the rest, as they say, is history. After a trip to India in 2014, Sam Agri and Bangerter formed a partnership, which is about so much more than just business. 'I am now one of the Sam Agri family,' Bangerter says, smiling.