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California pears ripe for fall promotions


With supplies more plentiful than originally anticipated and ongoing harvest of multiple varieties, the California pear industry is perfectly positioned for fall and farm-to-fork promotional opportunities.

“California Bartlett pear volume is coming in over 15 percent higher than the pre-season crop estimate,” said Chris Zanobini, executive director of the California Pear Advisory Board. “Quality and sizing have been exceptional for the fresh market and we are expecting strong availability through the fall.”

Zanobini said that as of Aug. 21, California shippers have packed 1.6 million boxes of Bartletts and 300,000 boxes of Golden Bosc, Comice, French Butter and a number of red pear varieties.

“Bartlett harvest in the mountain districts is about halfway through and other varietal harvest is just beginning with strong availability of all varieties available now and through the fall,” said Zanobini. “Record high sugars and firm pressures are resulting in great shipping and eating pears this season.”

California pears are shipping throughout the country, but the California Pear Advisory Board is focusing marketing efforts on West Coast markets. The California Pears brand has positioned itself as a product that is freshly harvested and locally grown by family farmers.  The messaging fits well with the farm-to-fork or Locally Grown promotions prominent at California grocery stores, particularly in the fall.

The organization has a strong social media program and is partnering with several chains to tell the story of local pear farmers like Chuck Baker, depicted in a video currently being shared with consumers and retailers as part of the Pear Advisory Board’s social marketing program.  The organization also has close ties with the California Grown program and has partnered with a local Sacramento-area food blog called Naturally Ella.

All efforts are aimed at telling consumers the story of California pears, which are sustainably raised by pear farming families who are growing pears on the same land as their great-great grandparents. This story is shared on the organization’s website and social media channels. The group has been working to develop custom social media tie-ins with retailers, so they can share information with shoppers about the locally grown pears featured in their stores.

“September is officially farm-to-fork month in Sacramento — which bills itself as America’s farm-to-fork capital,” said Zanobini.  “With the strong volume and good quality now available, California pears are perfectly positioned for promotions throughout the months of September and October. We are pushing hard for support among California retailers whose customers demand locally grown products when they are in season.”   

The industry has several new items available this year including new two-pound pouch bags for Bartlett and Bosc varieties that offer secondary displays for retailers and an easy source for back-to-school promotions. California shippers are also offering custom display bins that feature photos of “artisan” pear farmers and promote the locally grown message.

These items are available by contacting California pear shippers David J. Elliot & Son, Greene & Hemly, Rivermaid Trading Co. or Scully Packing.