WENATCHEE, Wash. — No big changes are anticipated in the way Northwest U.S. shippers store and pack pears in the 2011-12 season.
Like pear varieties, packaging hasn’t changed much in recent years. The 44-pound boxes for pears is the standard, industry leader say.
Pears are typically wrapped, packed and stored in the boxes. While apples are usually put in larger bins before they are placed in controlled atmosphere storage, pears are typically wrapped in tissue and packed in 44-pound cartons for long-term storage.
Late in the season, lower-quality pears are removed and the fruit is repacked from those cartons into bags or into cartons. Pears are more easily scuffed and injured and therefore packers like to wrap pears to keep the fruit from scuffing.
Randy Steensma, president and export marketing director for Nuchief Sales Inc., Wenatchee, said the firm mainly packs in tissue-wrapped, 44-pound boxes. He said the company also packs a half-box and a Euro box for certain retailers. Pears can also be packed in a one-layer carton for foodservice, he said.
Besides the 44-pound box, Loren Queen, marketing and communications manager for Domex Superfresh Growers, Yakima, said the marketers also offers 28-pound Euro cartons and also packs two-pound bags with kid-friendly graphics. The bags generally feature smaller fruits — 120s, 130s and 140s — and make for an attractive grab and go option, he said.
“It has been a great program,” he said.
Wenatchee-based Stemilt Growers LLC also is targeting the family market with bags.
Bags are an important component of family-friendly packaging, said Brianna Shales, communications specialist.
Stemilt offers a 3-pound mixed bag, which contains three types of pears.
Some retailers note as much as a 20% increase when pear varieties are promoted together, Shales said.
Tray packs can also be used for pears, but Chris Falk, vice president of Washington Fruit & Produce, Yakima, said this company packs almost all its pears as a wrap pack.
Some shippers used have ripeSense sensor in modified atmosphere packaging but its use is fairly limited.
Keith Mathews, chief executive officer of FirstFruits Marketing of Washington, Yakima, said pear skins become tender after storage, which requires them to be wrap packed to avoid deterioration in storage.
Some of the smaller volume varieties are packed in 22-pound boxes, which is a better fit for their usage and turns at store level, Mathews said.