Northwest pear grower-shippers expect brisk movement of promotable volumes of high-quality fruit heading into the holidays.
As Thanksgiving nears, Wenatchee, Wash.-based Stemilt Growers Inc. will begin adding large volumes of anjous and red anjous to its mix of bartletts, boscs and other varieties, said Roger Pepperl, marketing director.
Stemilt expects to have abundant quantities for its multiple-variety “pear-o-rama” displays in time for the holidays, Pepperl said.
“It’s a nice crop, and we expect really good returns” on November multi-variety retails promotions, he said. “We do really, really well on pears at Thanksgiving.”
Fruit harvested in the Upper Wenatchee River Valley by Yakima, Wash.-based Domex Superfresh Growers was very clean at the beginning of November, said Loren Queen, the company’s marketing and communications manager.
“Pricing and movement are both good, and we expect them to stay about the same through the New Year,” Queen said.
On Nov. 1, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported a price of $22 for 4/5 bushel cartons of Northwest bartletts 70-90s, comparable to last year at the same time.
Yakima-based Rainier Fruit Co. finished its pear harvest the week of Oct. 24, said Suzanne Wolter, the company’s director of marketing.
Volumes are up significantly and fruit size slightly smaller than in 2010-2011, Wolter said.
“The fruit quality is exceptional,” she said. “Last year there were a fair amount with a rough appearance because of the wet spring. 2011 has been a good growing season, and the external appearance is beautiful.”
Sales of high-volume varieties like anjous and bartletts typically increase 20% when they’re part of a larger varietal display, Pepperl said.
Stemilt expects to move significant numbers of bagged pears this fall and winter, Pepperl said. The recession tapped into pent-up demand for 3- and 4-pound bags, and a slightly smaller size profile fits perfectly with bagged product, he said.
“The interest in bags has really picked up.”
Pear sizing was peaking on 90s and 100s for Stemilt this fall, Pepperl said. On average, fruit is about a size smaller than normal, he said.
After sizing smaller early in the deal, fruit was closer to the 5-year average by early November, Queen said.
Promotions will be heaviest on smaller fruit, with totes one possible option for moving the fruit, Wolter said. Strong export demand also will help shippers move smaller sizes, because many foreign markets prefer smaller fruit, she said.