Retailers warm to asian pearsKINGSBURG, Calif. — More and more consumers are becoming asian pear buyers, grower-shippers said.

The credit goes as much to retailers as to the quality of the fruit, they said.

“The retailers are really working well in promoting and adding shelf space,” said John Hein, salesman for Trinity Fruit Sales Co., Fresno.

It’s a view shared by Kingsburg Orchards.

“They’re (the pears) becoming more of a main street item that retailers are willing to promote in the apple and pear category,” said Dan Spain, vice president of sales and marketing.

The company’s proprietary Crunchy Gold launched the 2011 asian pear — or as the company markets them, apple pear — season in late July for Kingsburg Orchards.

“It’s a very good crop, and it’s moving well and fetching good prices,” Spain said in early August.
Crunchy Golds and hosuis will be available into late September, he said.

Harvesting of hosuis began in early August for most other California grower-shippers.

“We’re getting nice sized fruit, not a huge crop but excellent quality,” said Doug Phillips, owner of Phillips Farms Marketing, Visalia.

The early hosui harvest for Trinity Fruit Sales was producing a good range of sizes, Hein said, from 10s and 12s down to 18s. The sizes are dictated by the thinning process and are farmed to accommodate the programs Trinity Sales has in place, he said.

“We do lots of custom packing for everything from club packs to clamshells to single-layer and two-layer cartons,” Hein said.

The hosui harvest will wrap up by the end of September, grower-shippers said, but will overlap with the shinko harvest, which should begin in early to mid-September. Asian pears will be available into next year from all three growers.

Mexico had become a growing export market for the fruit until the flap over Mexican trucks’ entering the U.S. resulted in retaliatory tariff increases, Phillips said.

“I’m excited that Mexico is opening up again,” he said.

“With the somewhat favorable exchange rates, I think we’re going to get that business back.”