Organic pears account for about 4% of the Northwest pear market, according to Pear Bureau Northwest statistics.
Organics aren’t a huge part of the total pear volume, accounting for just 760,000 boxes of a total 19 million boxes.
For the 2011-12 season, the pear industry expects about 230,000 boxes of summer/fall pears, including green bartlett, red bartlett, starkrimson and other summer/fall varieties.
That’s down from the 2010-11 estimate of 264,000 summer/fall organic pear volume, but slightly up from the five-year average of 221,249 boxes.
The 2011-12 estimate for organic winter pear volume is 507,000 boxes, up from 535,000 boxes estimated last year.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Sept. 21 last year reported prices for size 100 organic bartlett pears at $30 per 44-pound box, which was an approximately $11 per box premium over conventional bartletts.
For most of the season, the premium for organic bartletts was about $9 per box over conventional fruit.
Meanwhile, the USDA reported the price of size 100 organic anjous at $29 per box in late January, a premium of about $6 per box compared with conventional size 100 anjou at that time.
For the season, the USDA reported a premium for organic anjous ranging from $6-8 per box.
Ben Johnson, president of Portland, Ore.-based Bridges Produce Inc., markets organic pears for Columbia Gorge Organic Fruit Co.
Considering the difficulty of growing organic pears, the premium should be even wider than it is, Johnson said.
“It’s a difficult item to grow organically because of the tendency to get some russeting,” he said.
However, the organic pear market still has held stronger than some other organic fruit markets, he said.