When discussing pomegranates, people often bring up the sweet and tangy flavor, various nutritional benefits, and the hefty price tag.
While pomegranates are well worth the price that people pay for them, not everyone knows why pomegranates are expensive compared to other fruits. Here’s what I found!
Why Are Pomegranates So Expensive?
Pomegranates are expensive mainly because only one species of pomegranate tree can produce them. Additionally, these trees need to grow in areas where higher-yield trees grow. Aside from the difficulty of growing and harvesting pomegranates, the demand for pomegranates is also high due to their being touted as a superfood.
To learn more about what makes pomegranates so expensive, from the lone tree that can grow them to the requirements for cultivation, keep reading!
1. Pomegranates Are In High Demand
The demand for pomegranates grows approximately 6.4% annually, with market size expected to be worth $322 billion by 2026.
So, when the demand for an item is high, prices tend to increase proportionally, and pomegranates are no different.
In the US alone, pomegranate orchards can be found in the states of California, Texas, and Arizona.
However, the demand for pomegranates far surpasses the supply provided by these orchards, which results in the US being the largest importer of the fruit.
Furthermore, pomegranates have been touted as a superfood in recent years, undoubtedly contributing to its steadily rising demand.
2. Pomegranates Are A Known Superfood
Pomegranates are being recognized worldwide as a superfood. For example, pomegranates are high in Vitamin C and are well-known for their antioxidant properties.
Additionally, they are high in fiber and protein, essential components in most diets.
Moreover, the sweet-sour flavor of the pomegranate makes them a popular ingredient in salads and other healthy dishes.
As such, the nutritional value of pomegranates contributes largely to their rising prices.
3. Only One Species Of Tree Produces Pomegranates
If the demand for pomegranates increases year by year, why is the supply not increasing accordingly?
One reason is that there are two extant species of trees under the Punica genus, from which pomegranates grow.
However, the Punica granatum tree is the only species that can flower and bear fruits that ultimately become the pomegranates eaten today.
Moreover, it isn’t enough to grow pomegranate trees to increase their supply; pomegranate trees have specific needs to flower and bear fruit.
Surely, this contributes to the scarcity of pomegranates and makes them expensive.
4. Pomegranates Can Only Bear Fruit In Specific Conditions
The environment is a significant factor affecting the fruit-bearing ability of pomegranate trees.
For instance, pomegranate trees can be grown worldwide, but they only produce fruit when grown in temperate to subtropical locations that receive plenty of sunlight.
Additionally, pomegranates must be spaced about 15 to 20 feet apart for growing fruits, limiting the number of pomegranate trees that can be harvested to fewer than 200 per acre of land.
As such, this affects the supply of pomegranates and contributes to their hefty price tag.
5. Competition With Other Higher-Yield Fruits & Crops
Aside from the agricultural requirements for pomegranate trees to bear fruit, the supply of these fruits struggles to meet demands.
That said, this is because pomegranate trees don’t yield as much fruit as other trees and crops that grow in the same conditions.
For example, lemon and orange trees are grown in some of the same locations as pomegranate trees.
Moreover, these fruit trees can produce more fruits per tree, with orange trees yielding about 250 pounds of fruit per year and lemon trees producing up to 200 pounds per year.
In comparison, pomegranate trees at their peak of fruit-bearing can yield between 50-100 pounds of fruit annually.
As a result, most farms tend to prioritize higher-yield fruit trees and crops to the detriment of the low pomegranate supply.
6. Arable Land Is Lost To Urban Development
Since pomegranate trees compete with other plants for land, is it not possible to simply acquire more land to solve the issue of low supply amid rising demand?
Unfortunately, it’s more complex than that.
For example, most countries tend to prioritize increasing residential zones to support growing populations, and as such, it’s difficult to purchase more land for pomegranate cultivation.
Additionally, the value of land continues to appreciate, impacting the price of crops grown on said land.
Therefore, pomegranates become more expensive as land becomes more expensive.
7. Short Harvest Season Limits Availability
Another factor that affects pomegranate supply is the short harvesting season. Specifically, pomegranates have a shorter harvest time than other fruits and crops.
Also, while some fruits have a harvest season that spans half the year, pomegranates are only readily harvestable during autumn, from late August through October.
Because of this, there is a limited time—and therefore limited quantity—wherein pomegranates can be harvested.
8. Pomegranates Are Susceptible To Disease & Damage
In addition to the short harvest season, not every pomegranate produced by pomegranate trees makes it to groceries and markets across the globe.
That said, pomegranates are especially susceptible to pests, some of which include the pomegranate butterfly and gray mold.
Additionally, pomegranate trees may produce smaller, less tasty fruit upon experiencing poor weather conditions during the growth stage.
Further, this results in lower revenue for these fruits considered of lower quality.
Moreover, pomegranates must be hand-picked due to their fragile outer skin, which can crack when handled roughly.
Therefore, this keeps the pomegranate supply low, thus making them more expensive.
9. Presence Of Pomegranate Food Byproducts
Pomegranate by-products also affect the available supply of fresh pomegranates.
So, while pomegranates can be purchased as whole fresh fruit, there is also a growing market for food products made from pomegranates.
For instance, pomegranate juice is a common way of consuming pomegranates, which is done by extracting juice from the pulp surrounding the seeds of pomegranates.
Additionally, people have found it laborious to prepare pomegranates for themselves.
That said, this has resulted in several health food stores and groceries selling pomegranate seeds ready for consumption.
Furthermore, grenadine, a popular syrup used in several cocktails and drinks, is made of pomegranate juice that has been cooked down into a syrup consistency.
Finally, these are among the several food byproducts of pomegranates that affect their availability and cause them to be expensive.
10. Non-Food Use Of Pomegranates
Pomegranates are in short supply because part of the pomegranate yield isn’t being used for consumption as food or drink.
For instance, there are ongoing studies regarding the application of pomegranates in medicine.
Additionally, cosmetic products on the market use pomegranate oils and extracts in their formulations.
Because of this, the minuscule supply of fresh pomegranates becomes even smaller if we consider that they are being used for other purposes.
11. Regional Taxes & Duties
Pomegranates may be more expensive than in other places, depending on where you live, which is due to taxes imposed by the government.
So, if your government places high regional and import taxes on food items like pomegranates, you can expect them to be more expensive.
There are several reasons why pomegranates are expensive, and most of these have to do with growing and harvesting fruits.
Additionally, pomegranates are in high demand year after year, while supply has stagnated.
Therefore, it’s only natural that pomegranates have become more expensive compared to other fruits.