Pomegreat chief executive Adam Pritchard said he wanted to get into the fresh fruit market and that pomegranates from Afghanistan would be among the first crops to be shipped into the UK.
Pritchard was speaking after Pomegreat announced it had become the first international company to source fruit juice from the war-torn country. It has signed a deal to buy a minimum of 500 tonnes of pomegranate concentrate and 500 tonnes of fresh fruit from Omaid Bahar, Afghanistan's first fruit processing facility.
Buying pomegranates from the country had been an ambition for the company since it was set up in 2004, said Pritchard. "I've always known about Afghanistan being the spiritual home of pomegranates, but because of what's been happening over there have never been able to access them," he added.
He first made contact with Omaid Bahar just before Christmas and began testing the quality of the produce. He then visited the facility two weeks ago and signed the deal. The first batch of juice is expected to arrive in the UK this month, followed by fresh fruit in November.
"The Afghan pomegranate is the best in the world and in 10 years working with pomegranates from many countries, I have never previously encountered juice of the quality Omaid Bahar is offering," he said.
Pritchard, who has sourced pomegranates from Iran, Turkey, China and Spain, said he had no concerns over the security of the Afghan supply, much of which is grown in the notorious Helmand province. There had been a great deal of government and aid agency support for farmers, he added. "We want to make a difference in a country that is very challenged," he said.
Around 80% of the country's GDP is farming based and farmers are being encouraged to grow pomegranates which can give them higher yields than opium, he said.