California Asian pear prices on the rise - The Packer

California Asian pear prices on the rise

09/03/2008 12:00:00 AM
Don Schrack

A worker harvests crunchy gold Asian pears, the newest proprietary variety from Kingsburg Orchards, Kingsburg, Calif. Crunchy gold was 10 years in development, says Dan Spain, the company's vice president of sales and marketing. Unlike most Asian pears, the variety does not have to be peeled before eaten, Spain says.

(Sept. 3) Larger sizes and outstanding taste are the highlights, grower-shippers said, as the California Asian pear crop hit mid-season form. Prices are climbing, they said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported on Aug. 26 that San Joaquin Valley single-layer carton f.ob.s for hosuis size 12 were $11.75-12, 14s were $10-11, 16s were $9-10 and 20s were $8. Last year at the same time that variety was $12.50-14 for 12s, $10-12 for 14s and 15s, $9-11 on 17s and $8-9 for 20s. Supplies of the shinseiki variety were insufficient to establish market.

Some grower-shippers began picking the season opening variety, shinsui, in early July. Harvesting of later varieties will continue through October, grower-shippers said. But because the fruit stores well, larger producers will have supplies available through the holidays and into the new year.

“This is a very clean crop, and the sizes are larger than last year,” said Doug Phillips, owner of Phillips Farms Marketing, Visalia, Calif.

The crop has a nice size profile with lots of 14s, 16s and 18s, Phillips said.

“Actually we’re finding that we’re a little short occasionally for the customers who want the smaller sizes,” he said. “But all of the fruit has excellent flavor and color.”

Phillips Farms Marketing has switched most of its Asian pear packing to single -layer cartons with each pear in a protective sock, which Phillips said makes the fruit better able to endure shipping and handling.

“It also makes a very nice retail display,” he said.

Phillips Farms Marketing also packs two-layer cartons and six-count clamshells.

The company had just started harvesting shinkos, Phillips said Aug. 29. The picking of later varieties continues well into October, he said. Phillips Farms Marketing plans to have the fruit available through January and, perhaps, into February.

At Dinuba, Calif.-based Fruit Patch Sales Inc., picking of the shin li variety began Aug. 28, said Mike Crookshank, fall commodity manager. The variety joins the hosuis in the Fruit Patch inventory. The shin li harvest continues through October, Crookshank said, and Fruit Patch plans to have Asian pear supplies through early November, he said.

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