It is nearly autumn in the Rio Negro Valley of Argentina, which means Awe Sum Organics has fresh organically grown pears grown by their partners at PAI Argentina already on the water and due to arrive on both coasts of the US.
“Our organic pears are grown in the Rio Negro Valley, which is well known for producing some of the finest and best tasting pears in the world. The region naturally has a unique and perfect climate and soil for pear production,” notes David Posner, CEO and Founder of Awe Sum Organics.
PAI supplies Awe Sum Organics with all of their organically grown pears. PAI has been growing pears in the region for many decades and organically over 20 years. In addition to organic certification, a significant percentage of their fruit is grown using biodynamic methods.
“Most of PAI’s organic pear production is Fair Trade certified, which means a portion of the purchase price for all of PAI’s Awe Sum Organic Fair Trade labelled organic pears goes back to the communities in the Rio Negro Valley of Argentina where the pears are grown and packed. These funds are sent directly to a social responsibility program established by and for PAI’s workers and their communities.
PAI is a leading Argentinian exporter of organic pears. PAI Argentina’s organic pears are monitored and certified by Argencert, an agency, based on strict verification of compliance with organic standards and certificates for fruit.
“Long-term supply chain partnerships are at the core of Awe Sum Organics’ culture, and our relationship with PAI goes back over 15 years. While adapting to the ever growing and changing market for organic produce we continue to remain 100% focused and true to our mission statement, which is why we are proud to offer organic, biodynamic Fair Trade certified pears from PAI Argentina”.
“We are bringing in adequate volumes of each variety to supply the customer programs we have built with some additional volumes for our spot market customers. The growing conditions climatically have been excellent this season with near perfect temperatures for our pears. Hail is common in the region and this season we were lucky as there was less hail than usual,” said David.
This season Awe Sum Organic’s Bartlett will run from the beginning of March through mid-April, complimented with the addition of Red Bartlett in mid-March and continue through mid-April. Abate Fetel are planned to reach both coasts by the end of March and run through mid-May. D’Anjou should arrive starting in the beginning of April and continue through the end of June. Awe Sum’s Autumn Bartlett will arrive starting in mid-April to transition nicely from their regular Bartlett and run through end of June. Awe Sum’s Bosc will be running mid-April to early June, and their highly prized organic Forelle pears will reach both coasts in early April and run through May.
There has been an upsurge in demand for organic produce in the US due to the pandemic and people becoming increasingly more health conscious.
“Organic demand has been increasing steadily for around 15 years at the rate of 10% or so year over year. It started to drop off slightly in recent years but 2020 saw it increase by around 14-15% overall from 2019, with some commodities showing higher increases than others. Of the organic commodities that we carry, the largest increases have been seen in kiwifruit, blueberries and citrus which are well known for their health benefits, but grapes, apples and pears have also increased," according to David.
The current issue of container shortages and port congestion is hampering shipping from South America to the west coast of the US with arrival and unloading delays of up to 3 weeks.
“The east coast has had much less issues, but arrivals into Long Beach and Los Angeles are still facing delays. This is most likely due to the effect of an influx of containers at the end of last year last after China opened up, that coincided with a shortage of labour at the US ports, which were still in the midst of the pandemic. Exporters and importers are having to work around the fact that often the feeder vessels are being held up from Panama as well. The result is a tremendous delay, sometimes up to 3 weeks on the west coast, but the situation is starting to improve a bit now."
These delays and the shortage of containers are increasing the price of ocean freight, but according to David at Awe Sum they are very conscious of the returns to their growers and the additional cost will have to be passed on through the chain.
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