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US (WA): Good movement for Washington pear crop

Shipments of Washington pears have gotten off to a good start this year due to good demand. Although volume is slightly down, there are enough supplies to make this a good year for the state's pear industry.

“The crop has been moving pretty well this year,” said Howard Nager, vice president of marketing for Domex Superfresh Growers in Yakima, Washington. He noted that, as of November 23rd, 38% of the state's pears had been shipped, whereas, last year, only 31% of the crop had been shipped by that point. He pointed to robust demand as driving those sales, something which he thinks is tied to the good year that the state's apple industry has been enjoying.

“I think it's maybe a case of piggybacking on the apple category,” said Nager. “Apples have been having a good year in movement and in terms of demand and sales, and a lot of times apples and pears will go hand-in-hand, especially with retail promotions.” Part of the success of this year's apple season in Washington has been due to good volumes of fruit hitting a market that is facing shortages, and while that's not exactly the case with pears, plentiful supplies of pears have been a boon.

“It's a huge crop,” said Nager. He noted that this year's crop, at 19.1 million boxes, will be less than last year's crop of 20.3 million boxes, but he added that there will be plenty of fruit. Another thing that will make this a good year for growers, and retailers, is the good price that pears are garnering.

“Pricing has been up about 13 percent, compared to last year,” said Nager. “It's been good for growers and retailers, but I also think it's hit a sweet spot in that it's also good for consumers because of the quality of fruit.” This year's quality has been very good, according to Nager, with a clean appearance, good flavor and good sizing.

“Sizes are peaking around the 70's, and the fruit is really clean,” he said. “It's really a vintage crop.” Helping the overall quality of fruit has been excellent pre-conditioning practices that ensure consumers encounter fruit that's at its best.

“Pre-conditioning really helps because it helps provide consumers riper fruit,” said Nager. “That really helps with Anjous, especially, because, unlike Bartletts, Anjous don't really change color to signify ripeness. So the pear bureau has done good work with retailers to educate consumers about when fruit is ripe, and they've worked well with retailers on pre-conditioning fruit.” And all that has added up to good sales.

For more information:
Howard Nager
Domex Superfresh Growers
+1 509 966 1814

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