The fresh pomegranate business is taking off as a value-added convenience item.
“The aril program is gaining momentum,” said Bill Purewal, president of Selma, Calif.-based PureFresh Sales Inc.
Tom Tjerandsen, manager of the Sonoma, Calif.-based Pomegranate Council, agrees that fresh arils are an important aspect of the pomegranate’s increasing popularity.
“We’re starting to see cups and tray packs available in retail. And not only that, but arils are gaining enormous popularity in foodservice,” Tjerandsen said.
Purewal said that if companies can provide retailers with the product year-round, they are more likely to carry it, which is beneficial to sales.
“We can see a lot of retailers that are willing to carry it with it being year-round,” he said. “Every year we get a few more customers to keep them on the shelf year-round.”
In terms of packaging, PureFresh has a few options, including a 4.3-ounce product, all the way up to an 8-ounce pack.
Los Angeles-based Pom Wonderful also offers pomegranate arils under its Pom Poms line in 4.3- and 8-ounce serving sizes.
The 4.3-ounce option has 100 calories and comes with a spoon inside the container for snacking on the go.
“There’s no doubt that opening a pomegranate requires a bit of commitment for the consumers, so if we can provide a convenient way to get the benefits of pomegranates, there’s really a business opportunity there,” said Marc Seguin, vice president of marketing.
Seguin expects to see the company’s aril product sales to double in size this year and possibly double again next year.
“We sold everything we had last year. They’ve really started to sell more and more,” he said.
The value-added item does carry a premium price because of the convenience aspect, although Purewal said consumers are still willing to buy the product.
“For someone who might not buy a pomegranate because of the hard work involved in taking the seeds out, arils are a great alternative to buying a whole pomegranate. And they can eat them year-round,” Purewal said.
Atomic Torosian, managing partner in Crown Jewels Produce, Fresno, Calif., said he sees the aril market as a potential growing part of the industry, if companies can offer them at a good price.
“If the price point works, it could help increase exposure,” he said.
Tjerandsen said the premium price has to do with the time and labor involved in removing the arils from the fruit.