The Conference pear harvest has already finished in the Spanish region of La Rioja, so the fruit's marketing is now starting in a year that began with uncertainty regarding the supply of water for irrigation, but which is coming to a close with the harvest returning to normal levels. "While last year the problem was the calibers, this year it will be the russeting," said Ricardo Pisón, of Frutas Pisón. "Russeting is a characteristic of Conference pears that forms on the skin with humidity, and in this year of drought, there has been no humidity at all, and this has hindered its formation."
"However, as always, the impact of this changes depending on the area. Some plots are more affected than others. In our case, I am very happy, because a large share of the production, around 80%, has a high amount of russeting."
In spite of this, this year's prices at origin have been "very high" due to different factors, says Ricardo. "Firstly, because pear prices were very high at the end of last season due to shortages, and when that happens, prices are always good at the start of the new campaign. And secondly, because due to the significant reduction of the Italian harvest, many Italian buyers have come to Spain to bid, and this has caused prices to rise even more. It has been like a perfect storm that has caused Conference pear prices at this early stage of the season to be 15 to 20 cents higher than last year." Domestic buyers have "had to adapt to this situation," says Ricardo. "Everything depends on the supply and demand, and producers will sell their fruit for the price that buyers are willing to pay.
"We have a significant amount of kilos and a quality above average, which is a good starting point".
The marketing campaign for the Conference pear is only starting now, but unlike that of stone fruit, for example, which is very short, the pear and apple ones can last for months. "This year, everyone is saying that there is a shortage of Conference pears in certain areas of Europe and, fortunately, we do have a significant amount of kilos and above-average quality, which is a good starting point. While there are always many factors beyond your control influencing the market, this season's prospects look encouraging."