Promotable volumes on Washington pears, especially organic

From Fresh Plaza | 22 February 2023

Overview of organic pears from Washington in the U.S. market, complemented by charts from Agronometrics. Original published on February 21, 2023. 

As the Washington pear season hits halfway into the 2022 crop, supplies for Superfresh Growers are steady on Anjou, Red Anjou, Bosc and organic Anjou. “We are ready to promote Anjou pears and plan to have volume into summer, touching new crop,” says Cat Gipe-Stewart, director of marketing with Superfresh Growers.

The growers-shipper also has a new pear on the market, the Mardi Gras® pear–a sweet, buttery, juicy pear that is a medium-sized, elongated bottle-shaped pear. “The Conference pear, Europe’s favorite variety, is a parent of the Mardi Gras pear. We are receiving great feedback in this limited-volume launch,” says Gipe-Stewart. “Customers and consumers are both commenting on the texture and flavor.”

In terms of movement, according to the Northwest Pear storage reports, Bosc is on par with the last three years of movement. “Red and Green Anjou are a bit behind pace on movement, and the industry has volume to support spring promotions. Comice is pretty much done for the year,” says Gipe-Stewart. “Giving space and promotions to pears, especially organic pears, could really help with the momentum. Quality and condition have been very good this year and are a cause to celebrate and finish strong in the 2nd half of the season.”

pear volumes by history

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

2022 crop timing

Following last year’s late spring bloom, the 2022 crop started about two weeks later than the year prior. In turn, Superfresh Growers plans to have Anjou pears throughout the summer and meet new crop Bartlett harvest. In addition, with the import pear season starting, supplies of Bosc pears should last through summer.

While its organic program will likely go until spring though, there are also promotable volumes of organic Anjous and it also has good supplies of organic Red Anjous and organic Bosc. “January-March is when we see healthy eating and a focus on organics in consumers. This is a great time to run organic ads next to conventional,” says Gipe-Stewart.

As far as demand, it has slowed down somewhat for pears. “We have volume planned to extend through summer and are ready to promote. In a shorter crop year, we’ve seen a lot of hesitancy to promote. However we strategically plan our storage fruit to support that throughout the year,” says Gipe-Stewart, adding that movement of pace is just under where it was last year.

Adding excitement to the category

Overall historically pear consumption is steady. “We are, however, very excited about new varieties coming into the market this year. Innovation and flavor excite consumers. We released our Mardi Gras pear this February and sales have been great,” says Gipe-Stewart. “We hope new varieties like this add more excitement and interest, powering up the whole category.” To help the movement of the pear and create awareness of this new variety, Superfresh Growers is adding things such as a Mardi Gras Pear King Cake recipe to its website in time for the annual event today.

As for retail pear prices, Neilsen data for the last four weeks ending 1/28/23 indicate pears are up $0.18 YoY, to $2.07/lb. “We didn’t see average pear retail go over $2/lb until fall of 2022 when inflation really started to kick in. Pear prices are rising faster than total fruit, implying that inflation is affecting pears more. Pears were up 10 percent YoY, vs total fruit was only up 2 percent YoY,” says Gipe-Stewart.

Selling product in inflationary times can prove challenging, particularly for an item such as pears which are often an impulse buy. “Organic pears are feeling this impact even more as we are seeing variety switching consumers fluctuate to conventional over organic with price pressure on their minds. Organic pears are getting hit double time,” says Gipe-Stewart.

The News in Charts is a collection of stories from the industry complemented by charts from Agronometrics to help better tell their story.

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