A record number of pears had shipped from the Pacific Northwest through January.
About 14.2 million boxes of pears shipped from Washington and Oregon as of Jan. 31, said Kevin Moffitt, president and chief executive officer of Pear Bureau Northwest, Milwaukie, Ore.
“We’re seeing record shipments in total,” Moffitt said. “In January, for instance, we sold more than 1.3 million boxes in the first two weeks of the month and 1.4 million boxes in the last two weeks.”
That’s up from 1.2 million boxes in each of those two-week periods last year at the same time, Moffitt said.
“For this time of year those are excellent volumes,” he said.
Northwest shippers are on track to ship about 22.2 million boxes of pears this year, which would be the largest on record and 14% more than last season.
When the industry projects a record crop, as it did at the beginning of the season, it’s nice to see it confirmed by actual shipment numbers, Moffitt said.
“You expect to ship more, but you’re certainly happy when you do. You can fall behind,” Moffitt said. “But movement has been good.”
Of the 14.2 million box total, about 8.77 million boxes have wound up in domestic markets, 5.43 million boxes in export markets.
That domestic/export mix is similar, percentage-wise, to last year at the same time, Moffitt said.
On the export side, some of the biggest shifts from last season have been seen in Brazil and Russia, he said.
Exports to Brazil were 55% lower than last year at the same time as of Jan. 31. That could be traced to problems last season, which led some importers to back off their Northwest programs, Moffitt said.
Also, he said, a larger size profile this season could be putting the brakes on demand. Some Brazilian importers prefer medium or small pears from the U.S.
Exports to Russia, meanwhile, are up 67%, making it the third-biggest importer of Northwest fruit, behind Mexico and Canada. Brazil was the third-biggest last year at the same time.