When it comes to buying pears, we Gen X moms are just as confused and frustrated as other customers. How do you buy pears? Ripen them yourself or buy them ready to eat? Why are they often bruised? And what’s the difference between the varieties anyway? In the retail game, consumer perception is everything. And when it comes down to it, pears are just plain puzzling.
“It’s a hard fruit to buy,” said Sally B. “I don’t know if they’re too hard or too mushy.”
This was a sentiment felt by most of the Gen X moms surveyed. How do you find the perfect pear, the one in inbetween unripe and overripe?
“I don’t know how to buy them and always seem to be disappointed with them,” said Karen P., who said if guaranteed good quality, she’d buy a lot more pears. “There seems to be a really small window when they’re good. They’re either really hard or super mealy.”
“Yes! It’s hard to know when they’re ripe – are they soft or too overdone?” said Beth O, who mentioned that the gritty texture of pears is off-putting to her. Yet, she still buys them for her family. Beth wishes there were “Ripe & Ready Now” stickers on the pears so she’d know when to buy them. “I think it’d be easier and I wouldn’t shy away from them.”
But despite those complaints, the good news for the pear industry is that people just plain like pears. Moms claim to buy pears often, rotating between apples, bananas and any seasonal fruit. Pears are a fruit that most kids like because of their mild flavor. Because of this, pears are often a fruit staple in many homes year round.
“We all have very individual tastes in our family, but pears are one of the few foods that everyone will eat,” said Chris W. She, like a lot of the other moms, even buys canned pears from time to time (especially to pack in kids’ lunches).
Shannon R., agreed. “I love them when they’re good – all soft and juicy,” she said, adding that it’s the one fruit that everyone in her family of six loves. She tends to buy 6-7 at a time, always ripe and ready to go and usually D’Anjou and green Bartlett.
Another confusing element? Moms don’t know the difference between pear varieties. Compare that to apples, where everyone has an opinion. But pears, not so much. “I haven’t sampled many … I don’t know … Bartletts I guess?” said Julie H.
That’s because there aren’t as many varieties of pears as there are of apples. After all, the apple market is huge. Sales of apples climb over the $2 billion mark, whereas pear sales sit about five times less than that.
Instead of buying by favorite type, most of the moms tended to buy whatever pear was on sale. The first week of August, a large display of Bartletts retailed at .99/pound at one Kansas-city based chain. Many shoppers appeared to be stocking up on this sale.
Note to retailers: be careful with this delicate fruit! The bruises turn consumers off. Handle pears gently before they arrive at supermarket level so they are more eye-appealing and will have a longer shelf life. Kelli D. favors the individually-wrapped Asian pear instead. “The quality is good,” she said. “Besides, I like the texture of (Asian pears) more – they’re crunchy and juicy.”
Maria J. says pears are one of her favorite fruits and eats a pear a day. After discovering its health benefits (higher in fiber than apples!), she realized pears were the perfect choice. “We go through a lot of pears,” she said. “When I want to eat something, I usually reach for a pear. You can find them all year round, they’re really nutritional and they’re not expensive so it fits everyone’s budget.”