During recent annual pear meetings in Portland, OR, representatives of the Northwest pear industry met to project the size of the forthcoming fresh pear harvest. With reports of a crop of excellent quality from the Pacific Northwest growing regions of Wenatchee and Yakima, WA, and Mid-Columbia and Medford. OR, the total projection is showing approximately 19.3 million standard 44-pound box equivalents (or 424,080 tons) of pears for the fresh market. This estimate is about 2% larger than the five-year average, and 6% smaller than last year’s crop, which was the largest ever recorded, making the forthcoming crop the fifth largest on record.
After last year’s late harvest, an average harvest timing is expected, beginning in early August with the Starkrimson variety being picked first followed by Bartlett. Winter pear varieties such as Anjou, Bosc, Comice, Concorde, Forelle, and Seckel will be picked from early September through mid-October. The quality of the fruit looks excellent, with no significant weather issues affecting the crop to date.
Green Anjou pears, the most abundantly grown variety in the Pacific Northwest, are showing a projected decrease of 9% when compared to 2011, which is projecting a Green Anjou crop size that is in line with the five-year average. Growers are expecting the Bosc pear crop to decrease by 14% when compared to last year’s record total. Bartlett pears are projecting to increase by 4% when compared to last season, which is also a 4% increase over the five-year average. Starkrimsons are showing an increase over last season of 5%, which is 8% above the five-year average. The Comice variety is expected to increase by 4%, showing a 15% increase over the five-year average as the Comice crop continues to experience a growth trend.
The top three varieties in terms of production remain the same as in previous years; Green Anjou pears are anticipated to make up 54% of the total 2012 crop, and Bartlett and Bosc pears are expected to yield 21% and 15% respectively.
In terms of organic pear production, projections show that the Pacific Northwest will continue its overall growth trend this season with a total of 831,000 standard 44-pound box equivalents (18,280 tons) of organic pears in the 2012 harvest, a decrease of 4% when compared to 2011 but a 12% increase over the five-year average. The Green Anjou and Bartlett remain the most abundant two organic pear varieties, with the Green Anjou projected yield at 360,900 organic standard 44-pound box equivalents, and the Green Bartlett estimated at 227,800 for 2012.
With this full crop of excellent quality, Pear Bureau Northwest’s president and CEO, Kevin Moffitt, states that he is confident the marketing programs planned for the forthcoming season will be effective in helping to move the crop. “We have developed innovative retail programs for this season based on new pear category information, which we will be custom-tailoring for retailers,” said Moffitt.
Key areas in this season’s domestic marketing program include an increased emphasis on consumer advertising from November-April to help raise awareness about pear ripening and usage, and a strong season-long retail push beginning with tactics to support the crop as soon as marketable volumes are available. The Pear Bureau will continue to use its comprehensive, proprietary pear category data to custom-tailor merchandising and promotional plans for retailers nationwide. An integrated PR and communications program enhances ongoing activities with consumer outreach emphasizing nutrition, recipe development for both consumers and foodservice, and by continuing to grow the online presence for USA Pears on www.usapears.org and among social media outlets.
The Pear Bureau will engage in export promotions in 38 countries worldwide, with 20 international marketing representatives coordinating promotions for USA Pears with activities targeted for each country’s market. The top export markets for USA Pears will remain Mexico, Canada, Russia, Brazil, Colombia, the UAE, Hong Kong, and India, which is one of the strongest growth markets for the industry. Special promotions planned include the “LazyTown” promotion in Mexico and the “US Fresh Fruit Showcase,” which will return to India for a second time and will also now be adopted for the Russian market. This activity will include in-store promotions with key retailers in each of the targeted countries as well as PR events for consumers. The “LazyTown” Promotion will include in-store promotional activities involving the “LazyTown” kids’ television show characters, TV advertorials, and special POS materials for participating retailers. The Pear Bureau will also continue its partnership with Fox Pictures in conducting joint promotions in Mexico and Central America. During these promotions, the Pear Bureau helps promote a Fox Pictures movie like “Ice Age” or “Alvin and the Chipmunks” via billboards and in-store promotions. In return, the Pear Bureau receives usage rights of the characters for the billboards, POS materials, and bags. In addition, season-long marketing programs will be customized for retailers in Mexico, using the Pear Bureau’s proprietary pear category data system which provides insight specific to the Mexican market.