Retailers once bought pomegranates to increase product variety, not actually expecting to sell them. When they did it was for holiday decorations, not festive snacking.

In 2002, the same year Pom Wonderful introduced its 100% juice, everything changed, Ray England recalls. England, vice president of marketing for Reedley, Calif.-based D.J. Forry Co., was running retail produce operations at the time when several U.S. stores, including his own, began displaying pomegranates in bins.

“It was absolutely shocking how that turned the tide in terms of pom sales,” said England, who spent 35 years in retail before joining the company.

“We sold through bin after bin,” he said.

“Now it seems to be a basic strategy for retailers to get the fruit off the produce counter and onto the sales floor in some type of destination point merchandising unit.”

With its eight-case and 14-case display units, D.J. Forry is one of many pomegranate grower-shippers offering regular and self-shipping bins this season.

“Bins work really well because they go in the middle of the department, the display is bigger and it moves more fruit,” said Mike Forrest, president of Reedley-based Youngstown Grape Distributors Inc.

“With retailers in the bin program pricing the fruit appropriately, we could see some huge volumes,” Forrest said.

Photos of cute kids and taglines such as “Picked perfect” and “Celebrate sweetly” on Los Angeles-based Pom Wonderful’s big new bins are designed to stop consumers and show them what the possibilities are, said vice president and general manager Brad Paris.

“You can’t miss them,” said Paris.

Each filled bin delivers more than $900 in sales on average, according to Pom Wonderful’s promotional material.

Paris is also excited about his new quarter-pallet display bin, aimed at smaller stores that don’t have room for half-pallet bins.

“We think it’s going to get us some additional secondary displays in the store — up near the checkout or in other departments — and give consumers more opportunities to buy fresh pomegranates,” he said.

For the second year, Madera, Calif.-based Bari Produce LLC is offering high-graphic half bins with sides that slide up to store bulk boxes underneath.

“It’s pretty slick for display in the middle of the retail aisle to help drive a few more sales,” said president Justin Bedwell.

“We can sell the bins filled or you can collapse them and put them on trucks with normal 25-pound boxes for set up in the store.”

Atomic Torosian, partner in Fresno, Calif.-based Crown Jewels Produce Co., also believes in bins. He encourages retailers to run large endcap displays with either bins or large displays of big fruit to help move them.

Jeff Simonian, sales manager for Fowler, Calif.-based Simonian Fruit Co., who expects to have fruit from September to January, advises retailers to start promoting pomegranates sooner rather than later.

“Sometimes retailers want to wait until Thanksgiving or Christmas to promote the fruit and it isn’t available,” Simonian said.

Tom Tjerandsen, manager of the Sonoma, Calif.-based Pomegranate Council, said bins make it easy for the retailer to use underutilized space and make it easy for shoppers to spot the high-impulse fruit.

“People write down bread, eggs and milk, but they don’t write down pomegranates,” Tjerandsen said.