On the final day of the POM Harvest Tour, the group toured the POM Wonderful offices, the fruit sorting and packaging plants, and the juicing and bottling plant.
I’m honestly surprised by how fascinating I found the experience. The POM Wonderful process is incredibly interesting!
The tour started in the main office where we outfitted ourselves for the tour.
Hardhats and hairnets are sexy!
The first area we toured was where the pomegranates are stored from the day’s harvest.
The pomegranates are stored in large containers until they are transported to the sorting area. The fresh fruit rarely waits more than a day or so in this location.
The next stop on the tour was seeing where the fruit entered the sorting facility.
The pomegranates are loaded on a large conveyer belt that travels inside the plant.
A gorgeous sea of red!
Inside the plant is where all of the magic happens!
After entering the plant via conveyer belt, the fruit passes under a camera, which rapidly takes 25 photos of EACH piece of fruit. In seconds, a computer analyzes each pomegranate for factors such as size, color, and imperfections (i.e. scarring, sunburn), and sorts each fruit accordingly.
Once the fruit is sorted, they are destined to be sold as whole fruit, turned into juice or another POM Wonderful product.
After the sorting process, the fruit is inspected by hand. Workers check for imperfections– particularly scarring– that the cameras may have missed.
The pomegranates that will be sold as whole fruit are then washed, dried, coated with a fungicide wash to prevent the spread of disease or bugs, coated with a light wax, dried again, stickered, and finally packaged for retail sale.
During the harvest season (just 15 weeks out of the year), millions of pomegranates are processed in this high-tech facility each day. But, it only takes about 15 minutes for a single piece of fruit to pass through the entire process. Holy technology!
POM also has a traditional sorting facility where about 200 workers sort each fruit by hand. This plant processes about 25% of what the computerized plant processes and employs four times as many workers.
If a pomegranates is destined to become POM Wonderful juice, they are transported to the juicing room.
Our group also toured the juicing and bottling areas, but we were not allowed to snap photos there for privacy reasons. Let’s just say that the POM bottling process is really COOL!
To read more about the POM Blogger Harvest Tour, check out my previous posts:
- The Bloggers and Agenda
- On the Road
- Orchard Fly Overs
- The Orchards
- Picking and Harvesting
- Afternoon Downtime
- Dinner at The Vintage Press