Productscan logged 190 new pomegranate flavored foods and beverages in the USA for the year-to-date to 31 October, up from just 31 new entries in 2003.
One issue that has helped to focus attention on the fruit as a potentially high value-adding ingredient has been growing interest in the fruit's health properties. Pomegranates are naturally high in polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that may be helpful in fighting a wide variety of health maladies from premature ageing to certain types of cancer.
There is growing scientific evidence to support such claims. For example, researchers from the University of Wisconsin Medical School reported in September that pomegranate juice was able to shrink prostate tumors in mice.
However, Datamonitor suggests that the taste and color of pomegranate have in fact been bigger factors in fueling the rise of new flavored products than health credentials. Recent new product launches include SheerBliss Ultra Super Premium Ice Cream Pomegranate Bars and Crofter's Organic Pomegranate Jelly from Canada.
Rhode Island-based Hauser Chocolatier recently debuted Hauser Chocolatier Pomegranate Truffles. According to the company, these truffles feature fruity, dark chocolate ganache infused with antioxidant-rich pomegranate juice.
Even chewing gum is getting in on the act. Illinois-based Ford Gum & Machine recently introduced Pomegranate Power Sugar Free Chewing Gum, a pomegranate and wild blueberry flavored gum made with natural pomegranate extract.
But perhaps the most unique of the recent pomegranate introductions is Jody Maroni's new Chicken Pomegranate Sausage. Jody Maroni, the founder of the retail stores that bear his name claims that "it was the best-received sausage flavor we have ever had".
Pomegranate's growth spurt could be good news for other so-called "superfruits" that are naturally high in beneficial ingredients. According to Tom Vierhile, executive editor of Datamonitor's Productscan Online database of new products, "acai is another 'good for you' tropical fruit which bears watching.
"A Brazilian rainforest berry, acai is said to have 50 percent more antioxidants than pomegranate. It's now only in a handful of products, but recent launches containing acai have grown at an exponential rate which bodes well for the future."
Datamonitor traces the rise of the pomegranate to the 2003 debut of POM Wonderful Pomegranate Juice from California-based POM Wonderful. The name 'Wonderful' refers to the type of pomegranate that this company grows.
The juice line was the first to blend pomegranate juice with the juice of other fruits like blueberries and mangoes. Shelved in the produce section of supermarkets and sold in unique glass bottles shaped like two pomegranates stacked on top of each other, the launch was clearly targeted at the luxury, exotic end of the market.
Productscan Online is the world's largest and longest running NPD database, located at www.productscan.com. Productscan is published by New York-based Datamonitor.