“This year in France, the demand for pears has had a little more difficulty taking off,” explains Franck Boucharlat, in charge of the fruits at Cofruly. The tangerines are still popular among the consumers, which explains their delayed interest in the pear. But Franck is relatively confident: “Within a couple of weeks, the demand for tangerines will start to drop, and the demand for pears should increase sharply until March at least.” According to Franck, the weak supply due to freezing temperatures and the high prices of the last season explain the current situation. “The same thing happened about fifteen years ago. People have paid so much the previous year that they lost interest in the product at the beginning of this new season and prefer to turn to other fruits.”
As far as production is concerned: “Last year, we experienced such a shortage, but we are far from it this year. The French William variety is still in production in the Hautes-Alpes, while we are usually done with it by the end of November. Hence the slump in sales in December,” explains Franck.
Although the French pear does not seem to meet any problem in terms of production this year, it must compete strongly with the price of its Belgian neighbor. There are indeed big differences in prices for some varieties. The French Comice, for instance, is found at 1.80 euros [2.1 USD] while the Belgian Comice is sold at 1.20 euros [1.4 USD]. “Although consumers are usually more attracted to the French production, a difference of 60 euro cents [0.70 USD] is not negligible. For essentially the same quality, a Belgian pear sold in retail at 2.40 euros [2.75 USD] has more success than a French one sold at 3.20 euros [3.7 USD]. Not everyone can afford it.”
Franck adds that “what people fear the most are the pears from Spain. We avoid this origin because as soon as they see the label “from Spain”, they suspect the use of “phytosanitary products”. But Spain does not do more treatments than us and we follow the same European regulations. Besides, as a company certified by the Fel Partnership, we carry out analyses according to a sampling plan where the results are compliant for both the French and the Spanish products.”