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Wonderful pomegranate harvest is underway

Early-season pomegranate varieties have moved smoothly into the distribution channels, and now the Wonderful, the principal pomegranate variety, is starting to ship.

"Continued warm days and cool nights in California's Central Valley have helped to produce the cleanest and largest crop we've seen in years," Tom Tjerandsen, manager of the Pomegranate Council, said in a press release.

This harvest is expected to continue until mid-November, with shipments from storage anticipated though January. Fresh Market shipments should exceed 4 million boxes. "Our fruit tastes and looks great right now," Brad Paris, general manager of produce at PomWonderful, said in the release. He added that "external color is getting redder by the day and the taste is fantastic, particularly for this early in the season."

The foodservice industry continues to help build awareness and trial for fresh pomegranates by showcasing the many ways in which arils (the red seeds) can be incorporated into traditional fall and winter menus. Consumers and chefs continue to visit the www.pomegranates.org website for an update on the newest recipes.

Consumers who recognize the attributes that make pomegranates a nutritional powerhouse are helping to accelerate the steady upward climb in per capita consumption. "Although the industry has virtually complete distribution across the country, heaviest sales are still concentrated on both coasts," Jeff Simonian of Simonian Fruit said in the release. "We need to continue to concentrate distribution building activities across the Midwest."

With low shrink and labor, fresh pomegranates are recognized as potentially a significant profit contributor during fall and early winter months. The shippers have market proven sales aids to help retailers increase their sales of California pomegranates.