Northwest pears weather recession woes

09/14/2012 11:26:00 AM
Jim Offner

Pear growers and shippers realize their product often is an impulse purchase in retail stores.

Such purchases sometimes go down during harsh economic times.

Given those parameters, are those grower-shippers getting any indication that the recession is over?

Some say yes.

“The California bartletts we’ve been harvesting just about a month, and the demand is incredible,” Addie Pobst, integrity-sustainability-import coordinator with Sedro-Woolley, Wash.-based CF Fresh, said in late August.

She said the company “can barely keep up” with demand for California pears and the trend seems poised to continue as the Northwest pear season gets going.

“The demand is exceptional, so that certainly looks like the recession easing up to us,” she said.

Another shipper said a couple of numbers indicate an improvement in the economy.

“Our business grew by 25% last year and is on target to have a growth from last year to this year of about 30%, which indicates very strong support of organic produce purchases and an active consumer market,” said Maureen Royal, saleswoman with Portland, Ore.-based Bridges Produce.

Others say it’s difficult to determine from pear sales if the economy is improving.

“One of the things we noticed was during the recession there was a fair amount of demand for fresh product, but people stayed home more,” said David Garcia, chief executive officer of Hood River, Ore.-based Diamond Fruit Growers.

Prices are expected to be a bit higher this year than last, and that could serve as an economic indicator, Garcia said.

Tim Evans, general sales manager with Chelan, Wash.-based Chelan Fresh Marketing, said he doesn’t see much of a connection between the general economy and fruit and vegetable sales.

“We seem to have come through the last few years. Agriculture in general has fared very well. It maybe hasn’t impacted us as much as other industries,” he said.



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