Did POM just get lucky?

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In 2002, POM Wonderful hit retail shelves and logged a half-million dollars in sales. Since then, sales have skyrocketed to nearly $90 million for bottles that retail for as much as $4 for 16 ounces.

"Everything just came together for them at the right time," said Mary Holz-Clause, director of the Agriculture Marketing Resource Center at Iowa State University. "The American consumer is constantly looking for new tastes." Indeed, in 2005 alone, 190 new pomegranate-flavored products were introduced, from ice-cream bars to chewing gum, up from just 31 in 2003.

How many other fruits and veggies with unique flavors are just waiting to happen? Could be many. The produce industry is on the verge of a branding boom, according to Ms. Holz-Clause. The motivation is clear: Get as far from commodity pricing as possible.

Sundia and POM Wonderful could be just the start. "We're seeing the farmers themselves working on developing brands," she said. "Just being an apple- or pear-grower isn't good enough these days."
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