( Photo: Mekht, Source: Unsplashed, Graphic: Shelby Matthews )

Northwest pear shippers adjust to pandemic

The Northwest pear industry is adjusting to the coronavirus, said Kevin Moffitt, president and CEO of Milwaukie, Ore.-based Pear Bureau Northwest

The bureau altered course, beginning in mid-March, when the pandemic first swept across the U.S., he said.

“When restaurants closed and consumers began preparing a majority of their meals at home, we promoted our large recipe database on our website with social media advertising,” he said. 

COVID-19 preventive measures working, Gebbers Farms reports

Brewster, Wash.-based Gebbers Farms says state COVID-19 testing at the applecherryand pear-growing operation indicates the firm’s preventive measures have been effective at protecting workers.

Washington State Department of Health officials reported during a routine COVID-19 press update in early September that of the more than 3,000 workers tested to-date at Gebbers Farms, 99.3% were negative for the virus, according to a news release. 

Gebbers Farms employs around 4,500 people at peak season in July, including 2,500 H-2A guest workers, the company reported.

Starr Ranch Growers consolidates sales offices, hires Shawn Loudon

Starr Ranch Growers, Wenatchee, Wash., has consolidated sales offices in Yakima, Wash., and hired Shawn Loudon to its sales team there.

The company still has its Wenatchee headquarters, which also has a sales staff.

“Prior to consolidation, we had sales staff located independently at each one of our packing plants,” Dan Davis, director of business development, said in an e-mail.  “With the addition of Stadelman, we were becoming too spread out and felt consolidating our 12 staff in the Yakima area into one office would benefit everyone.”

Northwest pear grower-shippers prepare to market lighter crop in 2020

Northwest pear grower-shippers expected a comparatively light crop this year, although they said they should have plenty of fruit to fill all needs.

“It’s gonna be a decent crop, a little less than last year,” said Mac Riggan, director of marketing with Chelan, Wash.-based grower-shipper Chelan Fresh.

In early August, growers were reporting localized hail damage across the region, among other challenges.

Stemilt’s d’anjou pears undergo RipeRite process

Stemilt Growers’ Rushing Rivers d’anjou and red d’anjou pears go through a process that the Wenatchee, Wash.-based company’ calls the RipeRite program.

The RipeRite program consists of a 20-person team with different responsibilities, from research and development, controlled-atmosphere storage operators and quality assurance specialists, according to a news release.

“Our pears benefit from ThermalTech ripening rooms and a prescriptive ripening protocol, which helps retailers deliver consistency and increase turns when they source from Stemilt,” Brianna Shales, senior marketing manager, said in the release.

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