“Just as consumers would have substantial labor involved in extracting arils, marketers do as well,” he said.
In addition, Tjerandsen said the arils have a relatively short shelf life once extracted from the husks.
“It’s important to get them to the customers quickly,” he said.
Because the aril market is still relatively new, companies haven’t yet perfected their processes.
“Marketers of arils are still experimenting with technology to increase shelf life. There’s a learning curve involved and we expect to see substantial changes in the next few years,” Tjerandsen said.
Torosian agrees that companies need to look into efficient processing methods.
“It’s a big commitment and a huge financial investment, but any way to increase pomegranate sales is positive for the industry,” he said.
Having arils available doesn’t seem to affect the demand for fresh, whole pomegranates, although the aril business may slow down a bit, according to Purewal, who said a lot of consumers like to do the work themselves.
“The arils pick up steam in late January and February when the fresh are no longer on the shelf,” he said.
That demand tends to stay strong through the rest of the year.
“Even in summer, there is demand for arils,” Purewal said.
Since rebranding its aril product and changing the packaging to include two breathable, sealed servings of arils, DJ Forry, Reedley, Calif., has seen an increase in sales, vice president John Forry said.
The package has two 2.2-ounce servings of arils.
The company began its Sweet Bursts program in May with supply from Peru, which transitioned in Chile.
Beginning in October, the company plans to begin with domestic supplies from its California wonderful variety.
An increased overall demand for aril products is also affecting sales.
“It’s been a process to educate people on what pomegranates are, and the shelf life is critical, but they are starting to realize it holds its shelf life until the date printed on the package,” Forry said.
The response has been positive to the new packaging and rebranding.
“The response overall is positive,” said Ray England, vice president of marketing.
From the retail perspective, England said it’s still a fairly new idea for retailers to carry arils during the summer because of the freight issues and other incremental costs that come with using offshore products.
“Costs run higher in the summertime,” he said.
Still, England said retailers who do decide to provide arils year-round have seen good results.