U.S. consumers could find Chilean pomegranates, figs and baby kiwifruit on retail shelves this year.

On Feb. 9, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service published a pest risk analysis which concluded that those commodities could be brought in safely to the U.S. if appropriate phtyosanitary measures are taken.

U.S. may OK Chilean pomegranates, figs, baby kiwifruit

Schueller

APHIS will receive comments on its ruling through April 12 and will then determine whether to allow the commodities in.

While the light hasn’t turned green just yet, importers are excited by the prospect.

“Those are three items that we’re known for, so it’s something we’re really keeping an eye on,” said Robert Schueller, director of public relations for World Variety Produce Inc., Los Angeles. “We look forward to seeing what happens.”

Pomegranates, figs and baby kiwifruit are all highly seasonal, Schueller said, but there is definitely potential to sell them at other times of the year. As it does with other fruits, Chile would ship those three items when the U.S. isn’t, he said.

Domestically grown pomegranates typically begin in August, hit their peak with the Wonderful variety in October and wrap up typically by January, Schueller said.

World Variety has seen good success with its year-round pomegranate aril deal out of India, and Schueller said there would likely be good demand also for a year-round whole pomegranate deal.

“There’s a large area of opportunity for whole fresh pomegranates,” he said.

Domestically grown figs peak in August and September before fading out in November, Schueller said.

Baby kiwifruit are currently available only for two or three weeks in late February and early March from New Zealand, and for four weeks in late August and September from U.S. growers, Schueller said.

The berry-size fruit always sells out quickly, and Schueller said there is room for significant growth in the category.

David Schiro, president of Jac Vandenberg Inc., Yonkers, N.Y., said his company could be interested in bringing in Chilean baby kiwifruit, though he said none of his suppliers had yet mentioned it.