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Organic pears up at CMI

by Lora Abcarian | August 31, 2010
Columbia Marketing International, headquartered in Wenatchee, WA, will see a surge in its organic pear volume this season.

"We have a fairly prominent grower that came to CMI last year," said Vice President of Marketing Bob Mast. He told The Produce News the company's volume will more than triple for the 2010-11 season for organic Anjou, Bosc and Bartlett. “That’s pretty significant,” he added.

CMI grows organic and conventional pears in the Wenatchee Valley and has packing operations in Monitor, WA. “We’ve got a pretty good crop coming,” Mr. Mast stated. Weather conditions during the spring were cool and wet. “That can have an impact on fruit size,” he noted. Conventional pear volume is expected to be roughly similar to 2009-10.

Shipments of Red and Green Bartletts began the last week of August. Anjou and Bosc production will begin in mid-September, with other pear varieties following.

CMI sells product to global markets, and exports typically account for approximately 25 percent of CMI’s overall sales.

Last season, the company did a wine and cheese pairing promotion that was highly successful. “We will continue the promotion,” Mr. Mast said.

CMI has designed special secondary displays and point-of-sale material to help retailers drive sales. A new tote bag and bin have been designed for pears this season. “The 'orchard-fresh look’ is what we call it,” he went on to say. “The totes look almost like a little basket. It’s like you picked the fruit.”

Consumers continue to look for a good eating experience. “We’re putting a lot of emphasis on our preripened program,” Mr. Mast said. Consumers still regard pears as a luxury item, a mindset CMI hopes to tweak.