You can’t argue with the numbers. Domex Superfresh Growers, headquartered in Yakima, WA, is bracing for double-digit increases in its conventional and organic pear volumes this season.
Marketing and Communications Manager Loren Queen provided the snapshot. “Conventional pears will be up 15 percent,” he told The Produce News July 27.
Organics will skyrocket this season. “We have 50 percent of the organic pear crop in the Northwest. Organics will be up 60 percent from last year,” Mr. Queen stated, attributing the jump to increased production and the addition of new organic growers to the company’s production network. “Organic demand is increasing,” he went on to say. “We’re being aggressive about that.” To illustrate, he said the dollar share for organics increased 14 percent by the end of May.
The effects of dicey weather during the production season are still being assessed. “I’m waiting to get the final word on weather,” he stated. “I am unsure about russeting. But weather is creating some quality pears. Eating quality and texture will be spectacular.”
Weather will delay this season’s harvest by approximately two weeks. Mr. Queen said the Bartlett harvest will ramp up around Aug. 25, followed by Anjou on Sept. 8. “Pear sizing is determined early in the production season,” he explained. “Cell division early on determines size. Weather could affect pears by one-half size.”
Pears will hit an empty pipeline this season. “That’s unusual for us,” Mr. Queen noted.
Domex Superfresh Growers grows and markets all major pear varieties to its global customers. “Our markets are fairly mature,” he said of overall exports. Mr. Queen expects increased volume will be marketed to Mexico this season due to the reduction and pending elimination of that country’s 20 percent import tariff. Asian markets continue to flourish.
According to Mr. Queen, the company’s preconditioning program continues to grow in popularity. “We encourage retailers to take advantage and advertise ripe pears,” he stated, adding that recent research revealed that, “Sixty-two percent of consumers expect the pears they’re picking up to be ripe and ready to eat.”
Pear and apple co-promotions are also being encouraged because they give retailers a seven percent lift in sales for each category. He illustrated by noting that pears also create energizing, visual color breaks with apples.
“A nice display will create this lift,” he observed.