Green and red anjous, as well as bartlett and bosc, comprise 96% of this year’s Northwest pear crop, according to the Milwaukie, Ore.-based Pear Bureau Northwest.
But retail customers don’t have to stop with those varieties, said Kevin Moffitt, the bureau’s president and CEO.
“In addition, there are about eight additional varieties that can offer retailers a great promotion opportunity to showcase less-familiar pears, including sweet comice, beautiful red starkrimson as well as concorde, forelle and seckel pears,” he said.
“These varieties, when showcased or promoted in sufficient volume, generate consumer attention can drive category sales.”
John Long, director of the sales and operations with the Union Gap, Wash., office of Raleigh, N.C.-based L&M Cos., said the size of winter pear varieties also will be large, with most growers peaking on 70-100s.
“This sizing fits the retail business and is targeted by the growers in order to get the best return possible,” Long said.
Variety percentage at Yakima, Wash.-based Sage Fruit Co. was as follows: bartlett, 41%; anjou, 27%; and bosc, 32%, said Chuck Sinks, president of sales and marketing.
“Volume this year is down slightly for all varieties,” he said.
Sage will harvest in August and September and have promotable volumes of organic and conventional bosc, anjou and bartlett pears through May, he said.
“To aid retailers, we have point-of-sale bins available for building their eye-catching displays,” Sinks said.
“Additionally, our market reps in the field are available to help build marketing strategies specific to the retailer, which may include sampling, in-store promotions or online/digital promotions.”
Preconditioning can build sales, especially where green anjous are concerned, said Ken Newman, co-owner of Hood River, Ore.-based Pine Grove Orchard LLC, which grows nine varieties of pears.
“What we need to do as an industry is properly ripen a green anjou and get it to the point the consumer can buy it and it will be properly ripened in two to four days,” he said. “It’s creeped way up into the 10-day — even to the 14 days, and nobody wants to buy something and eat it in two weeks.”
Promotion at store level can be crucial, particularly where consumers may not be familiar with some pear varieties, Newman said.
“We’ll go out and do taste tests in stores, and we’ve been to health shows passing out pears and promoting,” he said.
Wenatchee, Wash.-based Stemilt Growers LLC focuses on the main summer and winter pears, with bartlett, red pears and anjous comprising most of the crop, said Brianna Shales, communications director.
“We have bosc, too, but it will be down in volume this year,” she said.
Shales said Stemilt has some specialty varieties, including first-to-harvest tosca — most which are organic — and concorde, “a nice feature in the late fall months.”
Stemilt works with retailers on multi-variety promotions and offers numerous merchandising options, including pallet display bins and pop-up display bins, Shales said.
“We’re also very big on flavor and do not apply anti-ripening agents to pears as we’ve found they do not result in a flavor-first experience,” Shales said.
Stemilt has a ripening program, as well, Shales said.
“We are very big on retailers carrying ripened anjou pears,” she said. “Our RipeRite program leads the industry in terms of ripening protocol and the ripening rooms we have available for pears.”