The Produce News spoke to Michael Ecker, president of Vineland Growers Cooperative Ltd., about the production of a new variety of pear, the Harovin Sundown pear. The cooperative is the major tender fruit packer in Eastern Canada and sells over 55 percent of the Ontario tender fruit crop. The cooperative provides sales service for its members for tender fruit and fresh market grapes, selling fruit across Canada.
Developed by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the new Sundown pear is said to have a unique sweetness, firm flesh and a light-green skin. “We’ve received very positive reviews from retailers, growers and consumer taste testing of the new Harovin Sundown pear,” said Mr. Ecker.
Vineland Research & Innovation Centre, which owns the rights of the new variety of pear, is an independent, not-for-profit organization created to be a world-class center for horticultural science and innovation. Initial research in 2009 led by the Centre’s Isabelle Lesschaeve, indicated that the Harovin Sundown pear was received favorably in consumer trials.
“Our major retail partners are looking for new varieties of great-tasting, locally grown fruit, and we can deliver,” said Mr. Ecker. In addition to its unique taste, the pear has been developed to achieve the best-possible winter hardiness, post-harvest storage, better yields and a high fire blight tolerance.
Vineland Growers Cooperative Ltd. signed an exclusive agreement with the Vineland Research & Innovation Centre for marketing and commercialization rights for the Sundown Pear for Eastern Canada. The agreement is one of the first production and harvesting agreements of its kind in Canada.
There are opportunities for sub-licensing from Vineland Cooperative to grow and market the new variety in regions outside of Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada.
By 2014, Mr. Ecker estimates there will be 50,000 of the new pear trees in the ground in the Niagara peninsula and some in Atlantic Canada. “We believe with the high yields we expect, we can keep the cost of the pear on the shelf reasonable for the consumer and still leave some money for the grower and the co-op,” said Mr. Ecker.
“A marketing campaign will be developed around the new pear, and we are hoping it [the pear] will be widely accepted worldwide,” he said. “The sundown pear was bred in Canada and we anticipate will be a grown-in-Canada success story.”