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2018 conditions good for pear crop, Rainier’s Tudor says

With growing conditions that Andy Tudor, Rainier Fruit Co. vice president of business development, said have been “nearly ideal,” the Yakima grower-shipper is seeing a clean 2018 pear crop with good size.

“We have set a good crop, and size looks to be up at least one size over last year, if not more once harvest arrives,” Tudor said the third week of July.

“The most important thing is to date is appearance. In our terms we call this a clean crop,” he added.

rainier-pear And as the crop comes in, Rainier expects positive response to the crop as a whole and the Concorde variety in particular.

“Our rising star pear is Concorde” Tudor said. “Its unique flavor profile is almost the same when it is firm or starting to soften, giving consumers a consistent eating experience — especially since consumers have some anxiety about how to pick a good pear. For consumers that prefer a firm texture with all the flavor of a soft pear, we see them turning to Concorde.”

Tudor added that Concorde is not yet being grown organically, although each of the company’s other varieties do have organic production.

He noted that while organics as a category is on the rise, demand is less for organic pears than other fruit.

“For this season, 3 to 5 percent of our pear crop will be organics, depending on variety. We have some of each variety with the exception of Concorde,” Tudor said, adding, “It is my understanding that Bartlett has the largest acreage in transition for the industry.”

He continued, “Demand is growing for organic pears, but not at the rate of other commodities. The fight for retail space is real and constant, [and] it becomes difficult for retailers to duplicate their displays both conventional and organic.”

That said, Tudor noted, “Overall we continue to have work to do on pear consumption to help remind consumers how much they like pears and trigger them to purchase. “

When asked how markets have changed in the past five years with the emergence of millennials into the buying consumer sector, Tudor responded, “Markets are and will continue to change.”

He cited exports as a major outlet, explaining, “It would be difficult to move the Bartlett crop without Canada. Mexico and the Middle East are huge D’Anjou markets.”

But, he said, “Domestically we are not growing demand quick enough, and we have work to do to inspire the next generation of pear consumers.”

One tactic the pear industry uses is preconditioning, and Rainier is “one of a number of North West grower-packer-shippers that follow the strict protocol and utilize the equipment developed for proper preconditioning. Done right, we all sell more pears to more consumers because we are creating a consistent ready to eat experience for consumers,” he said.

As the new crop season gets underway, Rainier is developing its promotions and expects to have “some unique opportunities to offer to retailers,” Tudor added.