(July 3) Pomegranates are becoming increasingly popular. Consumer magazines are starting to feature easy recipes using the fruit, which makes it more approachable, says Tristan Millar, director of marketing for Frieda’s Inc., Los Alamitos, Calif.

“Many more chefs are incorporating these items on their menu, and, in turn, consumers have become intrigued to look for them in their produce department,” she says.

Consider how you can promote new ways to use this ancient fruit.

Pomegranates, also known as the Chinese apple, have hundreds of small edible seeds surrounded by red pulp and clustered into compartments separated by a translucent white membrane. The seeds taste sweet and tangy. Pomegranates have a tough, thin skin that is red to pinkish-yellow. They are about the size of a small grapefruit and may be eaten out of hand or used as a garnish.

Pomegranates have been well known for years, says Tom Tjerandsen, manager of the Pomegranate Council, San Francisco, who adds that the fruit has severalreferences in the Bible.

“It is a fruit that has been available for quite some time, but the consuming public is just now recognizing its many attributes and wide appeal,” he says.

Tjerandsen says that the fruit, which is high in antioxidants, flavanoids and vitamin C, is known for its health benefits.

“Given its unique collection of nutritional attributes, it makes for a wonderful juice drink,” he says.

NOVEMBER, DECEMBER DISPLAYS

Tim McLean, vice president of marketing for Pom Wonderful LLC, Los Angeles, recommends building a prominent display of the fruit for Thanksgiving and Christmas at the height of pomegranate season. The fruit can be used in special holiday dishes or in a centerpiece to decorate the holiday table, he says.

Tjerandsen recommends promoting the fruit using sampling to give pomegranates increased exposure.

“What we found to be wonderfully effective is an information and recipe booklet. It helps the shopper know what to do with a pomegranate when they get home and gives them ideas as to alternate uses other than out-of-hand consumption,” he says.

BROCHURE WITH HINTS

Pom Wonderful offers a four-color brochure that tells consumers how to eat, cook and decorate with pomegranates as well as recipes and tips for opening the fruit.

“A lot of people know what they are, but are not familiar with what to do with them,” McLean says. “This is an easy way for retailers to merchandise the product and help consumers understand how versatile they are.”

Encourage consumers to simply sprinkle pomegranate aril (the juice sacks inside the fruit containing the seeds) on salads, ice cream or pancakes.

Jim Atkinson, produce manager and international buyer for the single Buy For Less in Oklahoma City, says that the store has a tropical fruit section where it features specialty items.

Atkinson says the store normally sells pomegranates for $1.49 each and goes through about 10 cases a week. When the store features pomegranates at a special price of three or four for $1, Atkinson says it sells 80 cases a week.

Stephanie Byrd, produce employee at the single-unit Okie’s Sentry Market, Ocean Park, Wash., says the store places specialty items like pomegranates in a highly visible spot in the produce section. Sometimes the store features them in a weekly ad that comes out on Wednesdays. Byrd says that many people buy the pomegranates when the price is reduced.

Advise consumers to select pomegranates that are richly colored with no signs of damage and ones that are heavy for their size. To eat, sprinkle the seeds as a garnish in dishes, or add the fruit to vegetable and fruit salads, soups, sauces, fruit desserts, ices, ice cream and tarts.

POMEGRANATES

CARE: Store at 41 F (5 C) for up to four months. Consumers can store the fruit in the refrigerator for up to three months and keep the seeds in the freezer in an airtight container for up to three months. To remove seeds, tell consumers to cut out the blossom end and remove some of the white pith, but not to pierce the red seeds inside. Score the skin and bend back the rind to pull out the seeds. Cutting the fruit will release the juices, which stain. Juice may be refrigerated up to three days or frozen for up to six months in an airtight container.

NUTRITIONAL VALUE: Pomegranates are a good source of potassium. A medium pomegranate has about ¾ cup seeds and a half cup of juice.

AVAILABILITY: August through December