PORTLAND, Ore. (June 8, 2016) – Northwest pear growers are releasing fresh pear harvest projections following their annual meetings in Portland last week. Collectively, Washington’s Wenatchee and Yakima regions and Oregon’s Mid-Columbia and Medford regions estimate a fresh pear harvest of 18.7 million standard box equivalents, or 414,000 tons of fresh pears. These figures are up 2% from 2015 final harvest figures, but represent a 7% decrease from the five-year average.
Warm spring weather and good pollination led to a full bloom, with no significant weather events to hurt the fruit finish. “Growers are reporting beautiful, clean fruit that is filling out nicely in terms of fruit size,” stated Kevin Moffitt, president and CEO of Pear Bureau Northwest (PBNW). Harvest is expected slightly earlier than historical average, but similar to the last two years, with Starkrimson expected in the last days of July, Bartlett in the first days of August, and Anjou, Bosc, and Comice in the last two weeks of August, across the four growing regions. Concorde, Forelle, and Seckel will be picked from late August through September.
The top three varieties produced by Northwest growers remain the same as in previous years: Green Anjou pears are anticipated to make up 50% of the total 2016 crop, and Bartlett and Bosc pears are expected to yield 23% and 17%, respectively.
Green Anjou pears are showing a projected crop decrease of 3% compared with 2015, and a 13% drop compared to the five-year average. Growers estimate that the Bartlett pear crop yield will increase by 9% compared with last season’s results, matching the five-year average. The Bosc pear crop increase is expected to be 4% over the 2015 harvest, 3% higher than the five-year average. The size of the Red Anjou pear crop is expected to be 3% higher than last year, but down by 3% compared to the five-year average.
Harvest of certified organic pears in the Northwest is projected to make up about 6% of the crop, with 1,103,600 standard boxes (24,279 tons) for 2016, up 14% compared with 2015. The organic Green Anjou crop is expected to be 430,000 standard boxes, while the Green Bartlett and Bosc crop sizes are estimated at 310,000 and 235,000 standard boxes respectively.
“The industry expects a crop of excellent quality fruit with ample supplies for both the domestic and export markets,” says Moffitt. “The Pear Bureau will help keep demand for pears high worldwide through marketing communications, educational and promotional programs, and consumer sampling at retail and at events, maximizing profits for growers.”
At the beginning of each season, PBNW staff provides domestic and Canadian retail buyers with customized category analysis showing their pear category performance compared to their competition. The analysis identifies opportunity gaps and the pear team suggests best practices and promotions to improve pears sales and profits for retailers.
Throughout the season the PBNW team is a resource for retailers, sharing cutting-edge consumer and trade research results and trade best practice techniques on the Trade.usapears.org website. The new trade focused site is rich with tools to support pear category sales as well as a section to train produce personnel on handling and merchandising of fresh pears.
With US and Canadian consumers, PBNW will work to increase pear consumption through a multi-year, snack-focused campaign, promoting pears as pairable, packable, and nutritious. Messaging will be delivered through consumer magazine and digital advertising, teaching people how to know when a pear is ripe and sweet. Each month, PBNW’s marketing team will target consumers at usapears.org, on social media, through digital communications and more, including creating fun new recipes and sharing information about the 10 varieties of Northwest pears. Currently entering into the fifth year of a nutrition research and communication plan, PBNW promotes the nutritional benefits of pears through educators and nutritionists, who share content with their consumer networks. The pear industry academic investment in nutrition research will continue to provide novel results to share with the media and nutritionists.
Exports remain a vital part of the success of the industry and typically account for around 40% of the total sales in a given season (including Canada), according to Global Trade Atlas. Export activities for PBNW are spread across nearly 30 countries worldwide, supporting a diverse portfolio of markets for greater grower returns. The program targets both consumers and trade with the goal to increase awareness on ripening, varieties, nutrition, and usage to build demand. Activities in top markets – including Mexico and Central America, India, Middle East and SE Asia – will include in-store sampling, Northwest pear nutrition workshops, consumer advertising, movie promotional tie-ins, social media, and event activations. In the industry’s largest export market, Mexico, PBNW is using its retail pear category data to identify the opportunities for new varieties, size and grades of Northwest pears with major retailers.
A final initiative for the season will be an effort to PearUP! with industry partners, including commodity boards, industry experts, cross-store vendors, and food industry segments to expand the reach of Northwest pears across retail, digital communications, and events. Moffitt says, “Partnerships with wine and cheese brands and other ‘pear-able’ ingredients like packaged salads, nuts, and yogurt create buzz and excitement about Washington and Oregon pears. And teaming up with industry colleagues like The Produce Mom and Produce for Better Health expands our reach and support.”
About Pear Bureau Northwest
Pear Bureau Northwest is a non-profit marketing organization established in 1931 to promote the fresh USA Pears grown in Washington and Oregon, home to 84% of the US fresh pear crop. The Bureau represents nearly 1,600 growers and develops national and international markets for Northwest pear distribution. “The Pear Bureau Knows Pears.” For more information, visit www.usapears.org or www.trade.usapears.org.
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