The pomegranate is native to the region from Iran to the Himalayas in northern India and has been cultivated and naturalized over the whole Mediterranean region and the Caucasus since ancient times. It is widely cultivated throughout Algeria , Armenia , Azerbaijan , Iran , India , Pakistan , Syria , Turkey , the drier parts of southeast Asia , Peninsular Malaysia , the East Indies , and tropical Africa . Introduced into Latin America and California by Spanish settlers in 1769, pomegranate is now cultivated in parts of California and Arizona for juice production.
Pomegranate is a colorful fruit that is gaining attention from food manufacturers. According to Productscan Online, 190 new pomegranate-flavored foods and beverages were introduced in the United States in 2005, up from 31 products in 2003. The rich color, sweet-sour flavor and high antioxidant content are reasons why manufacturers are adding pomegranate to such products as jelly, ice cream bars, truffles and chewing gum. Pomegranate juice has long been a popular drink in Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine where it particularly is used in preparation of curd rice ( Telugu : dadhojanam ) from Andhra Pradesh , India and in 2002 having begun wide distribution in the United States and Canada.
The primary commercial growing regions of the world are the Near East, India and surrounding countries and southern Europe . In California commercial cultivation is centered in the southern San Joaquin Valley . Consumer demand in this country is not great. More pomegranate fruits probably wind up as decorations in fruit bowls than are consumed.
There is no worldwide information about pomegranate production or sales. The United States Department of Agriculture stopped collecting pomegranate data in 1989. According to the Pomegranate Council, however, about 250 growers in the San Joaquin Valley of California produce 80 percent of the U.S. pomegranate crop on approximately 14,000 acres.