Despite the recent supply chain difficulties due to the epidemic and other reasons, a large amount of pomegranate production in Israel is a good time for John Vena Inc.
Late pomegranate supplies in California are starting to dwindle, and a wholesaler from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, John Vena Inc., has increased fruit volumes in Israel through an import partnership with EDOM Fruits. EDOM Fruits is a cooperative of growers specializing in the export supply of exotic fruits and is the largest retailer in Europe.
Israel is in the height of its main season for the preferred Wonderful variety. “The timing of the Israeli season is a perfect complement to U.S. production,” says John Vena, president. “Just as California fruit loses steam, we welcome the first arrivals of main season varieties out of Israel. This allows a continuous supply of premium fruit through March.”
Favourable weather conditions in Israel this year have allowed the fruit to develop good size and color. The fruit provided by John Vena Inc. is a full 883 grams (1.8 pounds) per piece, and containers arrive every week as long as the supply can continue.
“I’m impressed with the quality of our fruit this year,” adds Vena. “Israeli pomegranates must be cold-treated before shipment to the U.S., which can affect the color. But so far, there’s been strong pigment with deep red tones.”
While the cost of shipping has risen, the use of ocean freight to replace air freight allows the import program to continue to provide value to the U.S. market.
Ready for retail
Unlike local pomegranate production, which prefers double packaging, Israeli pomegranates, mainly for European and Asian markets, are usually packaged in trays of 4 or 5 kilograms. It is more flexible and convenient for purchasing, especially for retailers. This is also the first time EDOM has provided scannable Databar UPC stickers to improve the accuracy and convenience of cash register scanning.
According to Emily Kohlhas, John Vena Inc. director of marketing, Wonderful is the “gold standard” pomegranate variety in the global marketplace due to its large size, well-formed arils, high BRIX, juiciness, red color, and long shelf life.
The season for Israeli pomegranates allows retailers to capitalize on the emphasis on health and wellness that follows the indulgent holiday season, with availability extending into March.
“A lot of work has been done to establish pomegranates in the consumer market, so the awareness is there,” says Kohlhas. “But it’s important to focus on the benefits of whole fruit over processed pomegranate products. Arils are preferred over juice from a nutrition standpoint for their fiber content and fresh arils are preferred over pre-processed ones that have begun to deteriorate in flavor and texture. The eating experience benefits the consumer, and the ease of handling whole poms versus arils with extremely short shelf-life benefits the retailer.”