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US pear growers see opportunity in organic and smaller pouches
The pear harvest in the Pacific Northwest has wrapped up for the year. The overall crop was down on last year, but sizing is spread well and quality is good. Growers say this was expected due to a large 2016 crop. As a result, supplies are tight and the market is strong.
"The overall crop here at CMI is down from last year, so we’re running tighter than normal on conventional pears," said Steve Lutz, of CMI in Washington. "The harvest is complete. We came in right on our estimate, which is a decline of about 25% from a large crop last season. Fruit quality looks excellent so we’re confident that we have pear supply that will delight consumers. Sizing is spread across the manifest so we have good availability of all sizes and grades. With the smaller crop, pricing is strong and demand is consistent."
Organic pear volume up significantly
There are a number of Winter varieties available now and while the conventional crop was down, organic volume is up. Lutz noted that retailers should be encouraged to promote organic pear varieties, with figures indicating an increase in earnings on the higher priced category.
"The big varieties going into winter are Anjou, Bosc, Red and Barlett pears," he said. "We’re up 50% in our organic pear volume. So we’re hitting a time where retailers can really put in place strong programs to develop their organic pear business. As we’ve seen with organic apples, with a higher retail price on organics, it is a big win when retailers convert shoppers to organic pears because it drives incremental category dollars. Therefore, we’re very excited about the organic pear opportunity this season. Our own organic pairs are available in our Daisy Girl brand."
Jump in popularity of smaller 2lb pouches
As the trend toward packaged produce continues, retailers and suppliers carefully take note of how to package produce in a way that is appealing as well as practical. Clearly, each produce item has its own particular 'sweet spot' and the only way to establish that is to trial different packaging options and examine what works best. With pears, it appears a 2lb pouch is hitting the mark, with data suggesting customers prefer this size.
"The 2lb pouch continues to be a big winner," Lutz observed. "Pears are a 'low purchase' category. As such, the vast majority of the buying public views a 3lb. bag as 'too big'. We’ve found that the primary benefit of the 2lb pouch is that it is small enough that it won’t scare off 'light' pear buyers while appealing to the growing segment of shoppers who are looking for packaged produce items. This has been a huge winner for our retail partners. Last year, Nielsen scan data shows that 2 lb. packages of pears jumped by over 50%."
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