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Commissaries competed to put the pear on a pedestal this season in a display contest sponsored by Pear Bureau Northwest, which honored first-place winners with a trip to the 2011 Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit convention and exposition.

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A winning display at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico.The display contest received more than 90 entries, including seven international entries.

Produce managers called on their creativity to create impressive pear displays using color, shapes, signage and props to entice customers to purchase USA Pears.

During the six-week contest display period, commissary produce managers were asked to set up and feature their pear display in the produce department for at least two weeks.

The commissaries were then judged on their use of multiple varieties of USA Pears, signage, tote bags, point-of-sale materials supplied by Pear Bureau Northwest, the theme and the ease of shopping the display.

For judging purposes, the commissaries were divided into eastern and western regions and then categorized by small and large divisions. A first place award was given to one commissary per category, with honorable mention given to one commissary per region.

Produce managers from the first-place commissaries in the small and large divisions will attend the PMA Fresh Summit in Atlanta Oct. 14-17.

Operated by the Defense Commissary Agency, commissaries provide groceries to military personnel, retirees, and their families on military bases. Authorized customers purchase goods at cost plus a 5 percent surcharge, which covers the cost of maintaining and renovating commissaries. This enables military personnel to save an average of 30 percent or more on groceries when compared to commercial prices.

DeCA often works directly with industry organizations to purchase fresh produce to supply their 250 commissaries on military bases around the world.

"We're pleased to see the increased excitement and competition our commissary display contest generates each season," Kevin Moffitt, president and chief executive officer of the Pear Bureau Northwest, said in a June 21 press release. "We value our relationship with DeCA and the opportunity it provides to raise awareness of the availability and versatility of fresh pears while inspiring commissary managers to seize unique opportunities within the produce category."

Bridget Bennett, produce specialist at DeCA, said in the press release, "Each year our produce managers look forward to participating in their merchandising contest, always surprising us with bigger and better ideas. These promotions go a long way to excite our shoppers, offering a great item at a great price. The Pear Bureau offers an educational trip to the PMA which re-energizes the winners about the world of produce."

2011 Pear Bureau Northwest Commissary Display Contest Winners:

Eastern Region

Small Division - Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina.

Large Division - Fort Benning, Georgia.

Honorable Mention - Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

Western Region

Small Division - Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho.

Large Division - Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico.

Honorable Mention - Osan Air Base, South Korea.