U.S. Northwest forecasting "very promotable" pear crop
The U.S. Northwest pear industry is forecasting a slight rise in production this year to 16.6m boxes, which is described as "very promotable".
Kevin Moffitt, president and CEO of Pear Bureau Northwest (PBNW), said growers throughout Washington and Oregon are reporting "beautiful fruit and good sizing".
"We are expecting a very promotable crop and with imports down by one third and a smaller California crop, the supply chain is open as Northwest pears enter the market," he said.
"Shippers are reporting solid demand for pears while retailers are also showing strong interest in the category. We are excited to promote the delicious flavor and quality eating experience of fresh pears through innovative promotions."
Harvest has begun for early varieties like Starkrimson and Bartlett in all regions, with growers to begin picking Green and Red Anjou and Bosc over the next two weeks of August. Specialty pears like Comice, Seckel, Forelle and Concorde pears will be picked near the end of August and into the first week of September.
Four leading varieties make up 96% of the Northwest crop, with unique and marketable varieties making up the remaining crop. Growers expect to pick 8.6 million standard boxes of Green Anjou pears, which will be more than 51% of the total crop.
Other primary varieties include 4.2 million boxes of Green Bartlett pears at 25% of the crop, 2.3 million boxes of Bosc for 14% of the crop, and just under 1 million Red Anjou pears at 5.5% of the total harvest.
Promotable quantities of Comice, Seckel, Concord and Forelle will be available to delight shoppers looking for wider pear selections during the season.
The organic pear estimate is expected to come in at 1.96 million standard boxes, which is nearly 12% of the total Northwest crop. Green Anjou and Bartlett combine for 74% of the organic crop, and Bosc and Red Anjou make up 14% and 6% respectively, with the remaining specialty varieties also available to fill out the crop year.
"It is hard to beat the flavor of a sweet ripe pear and the industry is passionate about providing consumers with the best possible eating experience," stated Moffitt.
"To enhance flavor and have consistently ripe fruit at retail, more packing houses are offering conditioned pears this season."
Moffitt continued, "In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and changing shopping habits of consumers, we have shifted more resources to innovative digital programs reaching online shoppers, targeted advertising, influencer campaigns and digital sampling. Pears are a high impulse item for most consumers.
"With consumers shopping in stores less often and spending less time in the store overall, it is important to grab their attention on the digital platforms. We will continue to use these tactics and others to grab the attention of consumers and get them excited about purchasing pears throughout this season as we adapt to these new realities."
Pear Bureau Regional Marketing Manager Bob Catinella added, "The Northwest pear season is starting off in a great place this year, and we are prepared for retailers to switch to Northwest pears earlier than ever before.
"We have a strong promotion plan in place this season, including an early push for Bartlett and Starkrimson, omnichannel collaborations with California Walnuts and Cabot Cheese, and more. As shoppers continue to prepare nutritious meals at home, we are in a solid position to have an excellent season at retail."