Despite a short summer Chilean crop, demand for asian pears is weak.

Western Fresh Marketing Services Inc., Madera, Calif., began shipping California-grown asian pears in volume in late August, said salesman Joel Salazar.

By the week of Sept. 8, he was ready for an uptick in demand.

“We hope movement starts picking up,” Salazar said Sept. 8. “We thought demand would be up because Chilean volumes were down, but for us it’s been a little bit on the quieter side.”

On Sept. 9, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $14.85-16.85 for one-layer cartons of hosuis from California, comparable to last year at the same time.

Vancouver, British Columbia-based The Oppenheimer Group wrapped up its Chilean asian pear deal in early August, later than some years, despite the fact that volumes were down this season, said David Nelley, Oppy’s apple and pear category director.

“We look forward to bouncing back next season,” Nelley said.

Prices were higher this summer as a result of the short Chilean crop, he said.

Weekly California asian pear volumes were typical for early September, and Western Fresh expects similar overall numbers as last season, about 75,000 packs, with the deal running into January and possibly February, Salazar said.

Western Fresh was shipping hosuis in early September, with shingkos and other varieties expected to follow later in the month. Fruit was peaking on 12s and 14s the week of Sept. 8.

“There’s not a lot of small fruit or extremely big fruit,” Salazar said.

Western Fresh reported good quality early in the California deal.

“It’s a beautiful piece of fruit, it’s really clean and it’s eating really well,” Salazar said.

Oppy expects to begin importing tottori pears from Japan in October, Nelley said.

“We should have slightly bigger volumes that last season.”

Tottoris should ship in to January, Nelley said.

Tottoris fill a specialty niche for Oppy at Asian retailers and high-end retailers catering to ethnic markets, especially on the West Coast, Nelley said.

Tottoris are hand-pollinated and grown in wax bags to prevent pest infestation, giving the fruit a very clean look, Nelley said.