Restaurant use of pomegranates is growing, which means good opportunities for growers.

“Pomegranates are beginning to enjoy enormous popularity in foodservice outlets,” said Tom Tjerandsen, manager of the Sonoma, Calif.-based Pomegranate Council.

Tjerandsen said arils can add interest and value to restaurant items.

“A foodservice provider can put a few arils in a glass of champagne and charge another buck for it, or sprinkle some arils on the salad for a really intriguing variation on a theme,” he said.

Pomegranate arils are handy for restaurants because they can be easily added to recipes.

“They are interesting, nutritious and can easily be incorporated into many kinds of dishes,” Tjerandsen said.

Atomic Torosian, managing partner of Crown Jewels Produce, Fresno, Calif., said he has seen the foodservice business move toward arils, although the company doesn’t currently offer those.

Marc Seguin, vice president of marketing for Los Angeles-based Pom Wonderful, said fresh whole pomegranate sales are still the majority in the company’s foodservice business simply because of logistics.

“The aril program isn’t big enough in scale to support that business,” he said. “The amount of pomegranates in the restaurant arena has to come from fresh sales.”

Seguin said the company works to make foodservice and industrial operators aware of all of its products, and it’s seen fresh pomegranates on more menus.

“White-tablecloth restaurants use pomegranates as a seasonal item,” he said.

In addition, Pom Wonderful contacts chefs to help create the recipes featured on its website, which offer consumers more ideas for how to use pomegranates at home.

“The more people experience pomegranates in the restaurants, the more it will start the cycle of wanting to bring those dishes home,” Seguin said.