The Pomegranate De-juicing Company (Pty) Ltd (PDC) was formed by Johan Everson and Christie Van Zyl.
Both men were active in the pomegranate farming industry, in that their farms are located in the main producing region in the Western Cape of South Africa.
Johan is very involved in the pomegranate industry and serves on various related associations. He is also well-known in the irrigation business for designing dams and implementing water supply systems.
Christie Van Zyl was renowned for his knowledge of machinery design and manufacturing in the agricultural industry. Sadly, he was fatally injured in a car crash early in 2018. However, his legacy lives on, in that he left behind him motivated people to carry on his passion of further developing the local pomegranate fruit industry.
Because of the very tight, stringent specifications of the UK and the rest of the EU for fresh pomegranate fruit exports, PDC was created with the sole purpose of ensuring sustainability by extending the usage of the entire pomegranate fruit.
Substantial quantities of fruit, unfortunately, do not make the export grade, mainly due to damage caused by very dry weather, pests, late harvests and as a result of climatic conditions, damage in transit, etc. This effectively eliminates around fifty percent of the entire whole fruit exports and presents difficult challenges for the farmers and the industry in general.
The sale value for the fruit unsuitable for export yields very low prices which has made it vital that some creative thinking was put in place to focus on developing alternative options, so as to maximise the potential of pomegranates.
The first step was to design and build a plant to extract the juice from the fruit. In achieving this, Johan and Christie built the first plant in South Africa to separate the aril from the pith and skin (see The Pomegranate) and produce pure pomegranate juice.
The juicing operation has been extremely successful with present production levels of approximately 1 million litres per annum.
Additional innovative initiatives were needed to improve returns and a sparkling pomegranate juice was developed for the health-conscious market. More information can be found about this on www.pompagne.com.
Further tests were carried out to extract pomegranate seed oil and other derivatives from the fruit, resulting initially in small quantities of oil being produced on a purely experimental basis.
In line with the company's main objective of maximising the fruit's potential, it was then decided to increase seed oil production. Over the subsequent two seasons, this will have gone up from a very modest base to an expected volume in 2019 of 5,000 litres of high quality virgin 100% pure pomegranate seed oil, guaranteed cold pressed and certified accordingly, for export to international markets.
This challenge is being taken very seriously and, as volumes increase, we will enlarge our community development programme accordingly - a critical part of our commitment to the residents of Wolseley.