The California pear industry’s growers, shippers and packers acknowledge that topics such as food safety standards, and the economy, will significantly affect their businesses this year.

Many sectors in the fresh produce industry have been buzzing about new food safety standards. However, some in the pear industry say they are already doing a great job complying with current food safety standards.

Atomic Torosian, managing partner in Crown Jewels Marketing and Distribution LLC, Fresno, Calif., said his company doesn’t need to do anything to adapt to new food safety standards. He said the company already practices high food safety standards.

“We do all the things that are required by the retailers,” Torosian said.

Steve Johnson, marketing director of Johnson Orchards Inc., Ukiah, Calif. said his company has paid close attention to food safety standards and has done everything to comply with new requests too.

Traceability is another aspect of food safety the pear industry has considered.

David Thiessen, sales manager of David J. Elliott & Sons, Courtland, Calif., said GS1 labeling would have an impact on pear traceability this year. 

It’s essentially “a new bar-coding system for individual pieces of fruit and cartons. The sticker that formerly only had a (Price Look-Up) number on it will now have a bar code that includes much more information, enhancing the information available to the retailer and improving traceability,” Thiessen said.

Most people in the pear industry are unsure as to how the economy will affect pear sales, but they remain optimistic.

Johnson said he thought it was too early to predict the economy’s affect on the California pear industry, but he didn’t think there would be a significant negative effect this year.

Patrick Archibeque, sales manager of All State Packers, Lodi, Calif., also said it was hard to tell if the pear industry would feel the effects of the down economy.

Johnson said he thought people might go to grocery stores more this year, and fruit might sell better because people may opt to stay in rather than go out to a restaurant.

Torosian said he thought the economy began to come off during last year’s season.

“I don’t think it’s down any more than last year. I suppose everything has been affected by the economy in some form. However, in depressed economic times it seems people eat at home more often, so fresh produce, at least from the retail side, doesn’t seem to have been affected quite as much as some other areas,” Thiessen said.