Promoting greater consumption of pears in schools will be the main focus for USA Pears at United Fresh Expo next month. They will be setting themselves up in the "Fresh Festival for School Foodservice" pavilion this year where visitors - especially foodservice professionals and caterers for school districts - can come and discuss why school districts should be adding more pears to their menus.
"We will be in the School Foodservice Pavilion over a two hour period at United Fresh," shared Kathy Stephenson of USA Pears. "Our aim is reach the top 50 school districts in the country and increase the amount of pears in schools. Schools often promote the A B C of fruits - Apples, Bananas, and Citrus - but we would also like to see pears at the same level."
To do this, Stephenson said USA Pears will highlight the nutritional benefits of pears and how they can fit in with school meal services. There will also be practical demonstrations for foodservice managers and staff in how to deal with pears in the kitchen. "We will be slicing pears and showing how to successfully ripen the fruit. Additionally, pears are available throughout the entire school year, which enables schools to plan their menus with confidence knowing that the fruit will be available."
One-stop shop for pear resources
Aside from practical advice at the Expo, USA Pears wants to let schools know that it is the go-to resource for anything pears, whether it's shipping and handling advice, recipe ideas, or to provide connections within the industry. According to Stephenson, it's something they have done now for a long time.
"USA Pears has been working with schools for decades," she said. "Schools are a big consumer of pears and we will be looking to build on that direct relationship. At United Fresh, we will also be giving out USB sticks that are in the shape of a pear and contain every tool a foodservice operator might need when it comes to pears - including cup conversions, recipes, variety guides, ripening information, and more. Our aim is to emphasize that we are the people to talk to for pear resources."
Stephenson added that another aspect that will be highlighted is the prospect of sliced pears, much like how apple slices are offered in schools. "We will be talking more about the potential for pre-sliced pears which are generally easier to serve," she explained. "USA Pears has been performing testing with a company for some time to develop ways to slice pears on a commercial scale. During the Expo, we will be looking for customers that are interested and connect them with that supplier."
Talking about produce
USA Pears is a frequent exhibitor at major trade shows and events around the country throughout the year. For them, United Fresh Expo is one of the trade shows that it looks forward to the most, due to the focus on fresh produce.
"Anytime folks gather together to talk about produce, we as a trade organization take the opportunity to be present," Stephenson said. "We attend many trade shows on various themes but what gets us most excited are the shows that specifically focus on fresh produce."