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D'Anjou is largest variety

Winter pears heading into strong promotion

There’s a reported 18-million box crop for the northwest pear industry “which is flat from last year. It’s a very promotable crop,” said Brianna Shales of Stemilt Growers. She expects the main winter variety, D’Anjous to be front and center for upcoming promotions. “That’s the primary winter pear –. and Stemilt has good promotable supplies with very high quality fruit and fruit condition.” Harvest is complete and they’re now into storage pears. “We have a great season ahead of us that will last into spring and even into early summer.” Shales says a key factor will be ensuring retailers have the gas pedal down on promotion, domestically and internationally. 

Marketing with new packaging
New marketing will take place in the form of a new 5lb. bag; Shales says it’s a stand up pouch bag that will allow retail to boost the purchase size through volume. “It’s a very convenient grab and go bag that’s good for in and out promotions. As we head into the holiday season our focus is on getting bulk promotions because we know that promoting pears is the key to success in the category.” Since pears might not be an item on a shopper’s grocery list every week, Shales says it’s going to be important for constant promo. 

Peak consumption for prime promotion
The industry is heading into peak consumption now, along with constant marketing of the fruit, Shales says the company works hard on promoting the different uses of pears, how to use them in different recipes and education on when to know when they’re ripe. “A lot of product education goes into promoting pears and how to use them,” she said. “We work really hard doing that on a direct to consumer level. The big thing for retailers is consumers want to purchase fruits and vegetables but they also don’t want to break the bank. Having pears on promotion often – particularly with D’Anjou, the main variety in the winter months – is a good way to fuel your pear category.” 

Many varieties available
While the Bartlett is probably the most recognizable variety, Shales says volume-wise it’s the D’Anjou first, and then Bartlett followed by Bosc and Red Pears. “Seasonality plays a big role in demand: As summer varieties wind down in the early winter months, pears like d’Anjou, Bosc, and Red pears become the focus at retail.” Stemilt has 12 varieties under the Rushing Rivers™ brand – a mix of organic and conventional: Bartlett, D’Anjou, Bosc, Red Pears, Concorde, Starkrimson, Tosca, Red Bartlett, Comice, Seckel, Forelle and Asian. 

Traditional varieties still dominate
There is still a place for specialty pears, although new varieties aren’t produced very often like there are with new genetic varieties of apples that seem to appear every year. “Where there’s a place for specialty varieties like Comice, Seckel and Concorde – those are always going to be a bit lower volume when compared to D’Anjous. The variety mix stays more stable in pears than it does with other produce. A lot of that goes back to pear trees being more difficult to grow and there’s a lot of time involved to get into production .The mix doesn’t change as often,” she said. 

Large fruit size
Overall the commodity had a very good growing season. “What we’re seeing, although volume over last year is flat, we have a lot of large size fruit,” said Shales. Last year resulted in smaller sizes – of which there are still available this year and are found in Stemilt’s 3lb. Lil Snappers™ pouch bags – but she says this year’s bigger pears allow for really strong promotions. “Because the bulk of the crop is large size we’re focusing on how we can get pear promo in place as we head into the holiday months.” 

For more information: 
Brianna Shales
Communications Manager 
Stemilt Growers LLC 
Tel: 509-662-9667