China, which has been closed to U.S. pears, is expected to emerge as a top market for the Northwest pear industry. Kevin D. Moffitt, president and CEO of Pear Bureau Northwest said it’s been a long time coming.
“We have been working on this for 20 years and the official request from our government happened in 1994,” he said. “During that time, the Pear Bureau and the Northwest pear industry have worked diligently with our partners at the Northwest Horticultural Council and USDA-APHIS to bring this to fruition. We are appreciative of all involved for their dedication in gaining access for U.S.-grown pears to China, which has the potential to become an important export market for our industry.”
Pear Bureau Northwest, a non-profit marketing organization that represents 1,600 growers, was established in 1931 to promote the fresh grown in Washington and Oregon, home to 84% of the U.S. fresh pear crop. Moffit said gaining entrance to the Chinese market cannot be minimized. “Based on our exports to Hong Kong and Taiwan and the overall market size of China,” he said, “it could easily rank among the top five export markets for U.S. pears within the next two or three seasons.”
To raise awareness of the policy change that allows access of U.S. pears into the Chinese market, the Pear Bureau will immediately engage and educate Chinese importers and retailers about the market access, the current pear crop outlook, and the varieties grown in Washington and Oregon. Targeting importers and retailers who have handled imports of Washington apples and California table grapes, the Pear Bureau will introduce promotional plans for the remainder of the season, and will distribute a framed “God of Fortune” poster as a gift from the U.S. pear industry to serve as a reminder of the profit opportunities for pears in China. The “God of Fortune” is a traditional symbol of Chinese New Year, which arrives on February 10.
Promotional programs will include in-store promotions with key retailers in the major East coast cities, including Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou. Louis Ng and Associates, the Pear Bureau’s marketing representatives for the region, will conduct training seminars with participating retailers to educate them on how to properly handle and display U.S. pears in order to maximize sales and profits. An importer incentive program may also be initiated if time and budget allow. The Pear Bureau anticipated access to the Chinese market during this season, and allocated a percentage of its annual budget to take advantage of the opportunity.
Jeff Correa, director of international marketing at Pear Bureau Northwest, noted that a significant amount of Northwest pears could be exported to China in the first quarter of 2013. “We could expect to ship pears to China into April, which would be similar to our exports to Taiwan and Hong Kong,” he said. “That would give us two-and-a-half months of shipments into China.”
Correa estimates that 25,000 to 40,000 standard 44-pound boxes of pears could be shipped to China in that time period. And, with red being an auspicious color in Chinese culture, Correa projects that China would most likely become the top export market for red pear varieties, such as Starkrimson and Red Anjou.