Pears ripen up in a Washington orchard. ( Ashley Nickle )

Lodi, Calif.-based Rivermaid Trading Co. has added two new growers to its Northwest pear program, said Scott Martinez, vice president of sales and the program’s manager in Medford, Ore.

“We are looking for opportunities to grow where it makes sense,” Martinez said. “We have to make sure we bring in the number we’re comfortable with, and we’re comfortable where we are here.”

Rivermaid anticipates a pear volume increase of 18% increase this year, Martinez said. The company expects to market more than 1 million 44-pound carton equivalents of pears out of the Northwest this year, he said.

Overall company pear volume, including California, should exceed 2 million units, he said.

“This California-Northwest deal that Rivermaid has put together is really unique to the apple/pear business,” Martinez said. “We’ve figured out how to do it without competing with each other.”

Rivermaid now has nine growers and is looking to add two more next season, Martinez said.

“And we’re working on a couple other marketing avenues,” he said.