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Pomegranate becoming hot flavour of the year

Coca-Cola has embraced the super fruit of the moment, pomegranate, by launching a line of pomegranate-based juices under its Odwalla brand in the US.

Pomegranate has been getting spectacular press for the best part of a year, due to its good taste and antioxidant-laden health benefits, and the move by Coke indicates just how far this previously obscure fruit has come.

Odwalla's entry joins other pomegranate offerings from the likes of R.W. Knudsen, Lakewood Organic, Avomex and Naked, most selling at a substantial premium. RJA Foods' PomeGreat has been notching robust sales growth in the UK and is the only juice that carries the logo of heart-health charity, Heart UK, on its packaging. It sells for $2 for a 330ml bottle. Ramping up the premium even further is retailer Marks & Spencer — it has an own-label pomegranate drink retailing for about $2.65.

The Odwalla range, PomaGrand, consists of a straight pomegranate juice as well as two blends ? one with mango, one with berries. In comparison, Pomegranate pioneer Pom Wonderful's range comprises pure pomegranate, as well as cherry, mango, blueberry or tangerine juice blends. PomaGrand is being marketed on its antioxidant properties and sweet taste.

"The blend in Odwalla PomaGrand is less tannic than other pomegranate juices on the market, which allows for a more enjoyable drinking experience," said Barr Hogen, an Odwalla creative chef. Another major beverage player, Cadbury-Schweppes, recently launched Pomegranate Pear under its Nantucket Nectars division in the US. It has already become one of the brand's better sellers.

It is clear pomegranate is moving beyond the juice category. Germany's Bitburger Brauerei has developed a 60 per cent beer/40 per cent pomegranate blend called Bit Passion, aimed at the youth market, with the slogan "Do you have the desire?" A pomegranate-flavoured vodka has been launched in the US by Pearl Vodka.

Lotte Confectionery has introduced a chewing gum in South Korea fortified with 2.8 per cent pomegranate juice. Other offerings include an organic vinaigrette (US), a soft drink (Israel) and an ice cream (US). Pomegranate pastes and powders are also being used in Indian ready meals in the US and UK.

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