Bartletts are just the beginning

07/16/2013 10:03:00 AM
Vicky Boyd

LODI, Calif. — Although pear varieties other than bartletts still are in the minority, they continue to gain popularity.

By displaying several varieties alongside the mainstay bartlett, retailers may boost bartlett as well as overall pear category sales, say grower-shippers.

Another way to boost sales of these specialty varieties, which include golden bosc, taylor’s gold, comice, sekel and forelle, is to conduct samplings and in-store promotions, they say.

“Varieties like french butter are becoming more popular, partly because they are only available for a short window of time, so the seasonality adds to the excitement,” said David Thiessen, sales manager for David J. Elliot & Son, Courtland. “Plus, they’re an excellent eating piece of fruit. Overall, demand for the more obscure varieties seems to be growing.”

Affinity for the specific types varies with regions, he said. The Northeast, for example, is one of the better markets for all varieties.

In addition, more affluent consumers are more likely to use a wider range of varieties, Thiessen said.

Dave Parker, a marketing adviser for Rivermaid Trading Co., said the Lodi-based grower-shipper also has seen demand for pears other than bartletts grow.

“We’ve definitely seen growth in all of the varieties — bosc, comice, even the sekels and taylor’s gold,” he said. “The variety category has grown. There’s no doubt about it.”

Offering several varieties alongside bartletts doesn’t tend to cannibalize bartlett sales, Parker said. Instead, it seems to boost overall pear category sales.

One way to introduce shoppers to the other varieties is through in-store sampling and demonstrations.

“If someone has never tasted the comice or any of the other varieties, there are textural differences, flavor profile differences,” he said. “That can be a revelation to someone.”

Rivermaid Trading Co. also sends out regular e-newsletters to its customers, letting them know what will be maturing in the coming weeks.

The different pear varieties are highlighted to increase excitement, Parker said.

Kyle Persky, sales manager for Scully Packing Co. LLC, Finley, said demand for varieties other than bartletts continues to hold steady or grow slowly.

“I think the bosc growth over the last few years has been pretty steady, and other varieties as well,” Persky said. “It’s not a boom, but increased interest in different varieties has been steady year after year.”


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