Pomegranates are consumed worldwide, prominently in the cosmetics, drinks, and syrup industry. While the Wonderful and Granada varieties are the most well-known pomegranates, the sweet Early 116 pomegranates with sizes comparable to the Wonderful offer an opportunity to source the superfruits when there is less supply in the global market. In addition to being naturally grown in Egypt, the Early 116 pomegranates also exhibit competitive prices in the market.
While pomegranates in India and North Africa are known to start their season in late August or early September with the Wonderful variety, the Early 116 varieties in Egypt start to harvest a month early in July, with the 2020 harvest expected to start in mid-July. While major exporters to Europe Turkey and Peru have an overlapping harvest season with Mediterranean Europe, Egyptian producers are able to export the Early 116 from July to August when there is lower supply in the market.
Over the course of several years, the production sites for pomegranates in Egypt have been shrinking, as in its place, Egyptian farmers have planted oranges. The main reasons for this shift are attributed to pomegranate’s low prices and the fact that oranges have a large pool of buyers. There is expected to be an around 25% decrease in production for this year.
In Cairo, however, the weather was optimal this season as producers saw rains that do not normally occur during the winter, which helped with the soil in the dry and arid region. Furthermore, production in Egypt was not particularly affected by labor shortages which were much less severe compared to its neighboring producers. Supplier Cairo Farms estimates that they will yield a total of 400 tons, and removing older trees will allow their export percentage to amass from 80-85% to 90% of the total production volume.
Prices of Egyptian pomegranates have remained low even before the coronavirus outbreak, but it has been further lowered to a range of USD 8.30 to 9.50 per MT. Compared to competitor countries, Egyptian pomegranates are cheaper than Turkish, and US products, as well as certain varieties from Iran and India. While Indian pomegranates match with Egyptian ones in terms of price, Egyptian products are generally considered to be of slightly higher quality.
Demand for pomegranates have seen steady demand, and in return, some farmers have turned to environment-friendly methods of production in order to meet the demands of European consumers. Government regulations that have tightened screening procedures for shipments of fruits in 2018 are also expected to increase export quality and reduce the amount of rejected exports.