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"Bosc probably the best 'undiscovered' pear"

It seems that there is a new variety of apple hitting the market each year. The new varieties offer a chance to promote a new flavor profile, color and any other feature that consumers are looking for. As a result, newer varieties are gaining market share, and apples in general remain a strong commodity. When it comes to pears though, the market is not seeing the same level of activity when it comes to new varieties. However, some producers see a potential when it comes to doing more to promote existing varieties.

Chuck Zeutenhorst of FirstFruits Marketing of Washington, believes that the profile of pears can be boosted in the same way that apples have over the years. Refreshed marketing, focusing on the flavors of pear varieties, is a way that can create some excitement in the pear market. He said that Bosc pears would be a good start. 

"We've seen a huge proliferation of apple varieties over the past decade or so," he observed. "Pears haven't enjoyed the same opportunity as there hasn't been any new varieties for a long time. We would like to see the industry push for better promotion of pears, including celebrating the existing varieties. Bosc is probably the best 'undiscovered' pear, in that it doesn't grow in huge volumes in the United States. However, it is a phenomenal eating experience and there is excellent potential for getting this message to consumers. We see a similar potential in some of the colored varieties like the red pear deal."

Excellent conditions lead to quality crop this year
With the pear harvest starting a month ago in the Northwest, growers are starting to get a good indication of how this year's crop compares to previous years. Growing conditions were ideal throughout spring and summer, prompting a normal start date as well as what producers see as a good quality crop. 

"We are seeing a much more normal crop this year," Zeutenhorst shared. "Traditionally, the cherry crop is a good precursor to what our apples and pears are going to do. Here in Washington, cherries had an excellent year, producing high quality fruit and we are now seeing that in our apples and pears. This lends itself to having a strong position in retail and we therefore have a positive outlook for the season."

Zeutenhorst added that along with excellent quality, volume is also looking strong, with numbers expected to be higher in both the conventional and organic varieties. "Fresh Bartlett volume is up compared with last year and quality is also very high," he said. "We are starting on the Green and Red Bartlett as well as Starkrimson, and we have some D'Anjou and Bosc already packed. On the organic side, organic Bartlett totals are up this year and we are seeing strong sales so far. Overall, on both apples and pears, we are seeing a substantial increase in volume and demand for organic."

"Movement has been constant since we started shipping," he continued. "Despite being a large crop, the percentage measure of the crop being moved is exactly where we need it to be. This is a strong indication that we are to have a good season and is a reflection of the excellent quality."

PMA exhibit
FirstFruits Marketing of Washington will be discussing their various pear programs at the PMA Fresh Summit next month in Orlando. As well as pears, the company also have their Opal apple, of which FirstFruits is the exclusive marketer for in the US. They also have another new apple which they will be highlighting at the show.

"There is going to be a strong focus on showcasing our Opal apple variety at PMA," Zeutenhorst said. "In volume, it is the number one new proprietary apple variety in the United States. We also have a new apple we are excited to show. The Sweetie apple is a beautiful red apple with a yellow blush originally discovered in France, and is available now."

FirstFruits will be at Booth 4060 at PMA.

For more information:
Chuck Zeutenhorst
FirstFruits Marketing of Washington
Tel: +1 (509) 853-4710

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