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Patricia Hoogervorst: With Sweet Sensation we approach new target group

"If apple club varieties succeed on overcrowded markets, then so can pears"

When Patricia Hoogervorst, product manager of top fruit at The Greenery, was asked to tell something about the pear concept Sweet Sensation on the Kennisdag Fruitteelt (Day of Knowledge Fruit Cultivation) she did not need a second to think. "I have complete faith that this variety will be successful, but at the same time I hear a lot of scepticism in the market as to why this variety should succeed."

Patricia Hoogervorst

According to Patricia there is definitely power in the variety, from growers to licence holders and retailers. Market analysis namely shows the space in the market for club varieties of pears. Up to now club varieties of pears are still in its infancy, whilst apple club varieties show that there is space for concepts on the shelf. The local retail shelf exists in the meantime on 15% of its volume and 20% of its value of club varieties. If this is successful on an overflowing market with apples, this should also be successful with pears!"

Sweet Sensation is according to Patricia is not just a pear. "We have introduced the concept after in-store tests at retailers, taste research and research for the correct name of the variety. It became clear that retailers reacted enthusiastically, that the outside of the pear in combination with the generic was highly appreciated by the consumers. With this we have decided to approach a new group of consumers, who rarely consume pears and to increase the consumption with a unique and tasteful product."

Amongst others Sweet Sensationcan can be purchased this season via various licence holders from Jumbo, Colruyt, Carrefour, Edeka, Auchan, E.Leclerc, Morrissons, Sainsbury's and Tesco.

"About thirty to forty percent of households in The Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom do not buy pears. The buying frequency is stable, but is about 50% lower than with apples. Especially young people and singles buy too few pears" Patricia continued. It is the aim to develop a good home market in those countries and areas where production takes place, in close cooperation with the retailers, whether they appreciate the new variety and then create a year round supply..

The important aim according to the product manager is not the maximum area, but a maximum yield. "At the moment in The Netherlands on an area of 8,200 HA pears are grown, of which about 75% is Conference and the Conference area increases rapidly. We concentrate in The Netherlands with Sweet Sensation on an area of about 420 HA, 5% of the Dutch area. Sweet Sensation gives a good return per hectare and connects to the demand from the market."

The doubt about the returns of Sweet Sensation, Patricia showed to be misplaced on the basis of a sum. According to the calculation the variety will be more profitable in thirty years than the Conference pears, starting at a price of Euro 0.85 at a yield of 85 tonnes/HA and Euro 0.80 at a yield of 40 tonnes/HA. She compared these figures with a price of Conference pears of Euro 0.50 at 55 tonnes/HA and Euro 0.55 at 50 tonnes/HA. "Also PPO concludes that at a price of Euro 0.82/kg the return of Sweet Sensation without GMO is the same as for Conference with a return of Euro 0.60. The strategy is to stay out of the negative price spiral with Sweet Sensation. Our best grower had a middle price of Euro 1.30 last year!"

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