If there ever were items tailor-made for export markets, pomegranates and persimmons fit that description perfectly, growers and shippers say.
“I export a lot,” said John Forry, president of D.J. Forry Co. Inc., Reedley, Calif.
Asia is a prime destination, he said.
“The biggest market is South Korea,” Forry said. “Russia would be the second biggest, but that’s later (in the season).”
Pomegranates have particularly large followings in export markets, Forry said.
“The pomegranate is a pretty well-known item,” he said. “A lot of people don’t understand or eat them, but they’ve been around, and more people are learning about them.”
Jeff Simonian, sales manager of Fowler, Calif.-based Simonian Fruit Co., also pointed to South Korea as a market with a voracious appetite for pomegranates.
“South Korea is far and away our biggest, aside from Canada, which is our biggest market outside the U.S.,” Simonian said. “Russia is another good one for us.”
Production from other countries provides keen competition, Simonian said.
“Traditionally, there’s a lot of competition in the world from Israel and India and other countries,” he said. “At least half a dozen significant growing countries compete with us in international markets.”
Simonian Fruit exports up to one-third of its volume, he said.
“The export market is important,” he said. “One of our goals the last couple of years is getting into new countries and establishing distribution in those countries.”
What kinds of profits come from overseas often depend on the prevailing economic climate, said Bill Purewal, president of Selma, Calif.-based PureFresh Sales Inc.
He said the export markets this year are pointing “all upwards because the dollar is so depressed and the export market is so strong. The demand is up. It might change when the dollar gets stronger.”
Purewal said his company exports to numerous markets, including Hong Kong, India, Brazil Mexico, Argentina and Dubai.
“Last year, we had a new customer (in Dubai) that was very attractive,” he said. “We sent more last year than before.”
For Fresno, Calif.-based Trinity Fruit, Asia is a popular export destination for pomegranates, said John Hein, marketing director.
“We have a really good export market, and probably our biggest are Taiwan, China and Korea,” he said. “(Pomegranates) are big in the Asian community.”