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Stemilt employing new tarpless rooms for its pear-ripening program

Already among industry leaders in pears, Stemilt Growers has elevated its pear program with the debut of Thermal Tech Tarpless ripening rooms at its Miller Street facility in Wenatchee, WA. The new rooms will enhance the company’s “RipeRite” pear-ripening program, which has been a feature for Stemilt pears for nearly a decade.

According to Stemilt Marketing Director Roger Pepperl, the state-of-the-art rooms were installed in the spring. Each room is designed with patented technologies that uniformly ripen d’Anjou and Red d’Anjou pears in order to deliver a dessert-like eating experience for the consumer.

The tarpless rooms will make the set-up process for ripening pears much easier. Pallets of fruit will be stacked in the two-tiered room and tarps will no longer need to be brought over the fruit. The new rooms also give Stemilt precise control over the temperature of the product in order to consistently ripen each pear in every box, as well as control over humidity in order to prevent fruit moisture and weight loss.

“We are really excited about the addition of the tarpless rooms and their ability to deliver an even-better tasting pear to the marketplace,” said Mr. Pepperl.

Ripening has long been a common practice in the produce industry. Bananas, tomatoes and avocados are also brought to the just-starting-to-ripen stage before they make it onto store shelves. This allows shoppers to eat these fruits soon after purchase, which can lead to increased sales.

“Data show that carrying conditioned pears can elevate pear-category sales by up to 16 percent. Since d’Anjou is a variety that doesn’t change color as it ripens, conditioning takes the guessing out for the consumer and allows them to enjoy a sweet, dessert-quality pear soon after every purchase,” said Mr. Pepperl.

In addition to its “RipeRite” program, Stemilt’s pear program gets a boost from state-of-the-art packing facilities and unique orchard locales.

On the packing side, Stemilt benefits from both packing flexibility and state-of-the-art technology on its lines. Stemilt has its own pear-packing facility at its Miller Street location in Wenatchee, and also markets and packs pears with long-time partner Peshastin Hi-Up Growers, a growers’ co-op that is known for its premium Upper Wenatchee River Valley pears. This access to four pear packinglines gives Stemilt great flexibility in fulfilling orders for classic varieties like Bartlett and d’Anjou and specialty varieties like Seckel and Concorde.

“Much like our new ripening rooms, our packinglines contain the latest and greatest technologies in order to deliver high-quality fruit to stores worldwide,” said Mr. Pepperl.

Another unique feature of Stemilt’s diverse pear program is the premier locales where pears are grown — the Upper Wenatchee River Valley and the Entiat River Valley. These two growing districts are considered to be the best locales in the world for pears. Here, pear orchards are surrounded by alpine mountains, which protect trees from the extreme heat of the summer and supply trees with clean water and high-quality air drainage.

“These unique locales are perfectly suited for growing high-quality d’Anjou pears and other specialty varieties. Year after year, these orchards produce pears with the right flavor profile, textures and qualities. The 2011-12 season is already shaping up to be a great one for Stemilt pears,” said Mr. Pepperl.