Demand for pears worldwide was excellent during the 2012-13 season, said Ed Weathers, vice president and sales manager of Duckwall Fruit, Hood River, Ore.
“Competing crops were short, with a smaller California crop, and of course, the soft fruit suffered and the failures on the East Coast on apples also improved the competitive picture,” he said. “It was one of those perfect storms, and we had a nice large crop on the river, so it was nice for the growers.”
While apple and pear markets are different, Mike Nicholson, salesman for Colombia Marketing International, Wenatchee, said high-priced apple market reduces buyer resistance to the higher prices of pears.
After Labor Day, retailers like to source apples and bartlett pears out of Washington, Nicholson said.
“They like to mix apples and bartlett loads, especially today, the way they manage inventories,” he said. “It is always mixed loads unless someone is on promotion,” he said.
Nicholson says he sees growth in the club store 5-pound and 6-pound bags for pears, and other retail outlets are also pushing pears.
“It seems like we’ve got higher numbers of promotions in the last couple of years, particularly bartletts and anjous,” he said.
The ultimate course of the 2013 season soon will begin to make itself evident with firmer ideas about the pear crop and competitive fruit outlet, Weathers said.
“You don’t have a concrete plan the first of August, but it kind of evolves as the season goes on,” he said. “It really depends on the crop.”