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Oneonta Starr Ranch: excellent pear, apple movement going into holidays

With its promotional campaigns in place and movement brisk for both apples and pears from the Northwest, Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers, a Wenatchee, WA, grower-shipper, is targeting a broad consumer base this season.

Dan Wohlford, national sales representative, said that Oneonta’s popular Pear the Taste and kid-friendly snaQ promotions are seeing good response from retail, and 2011’s smaller fruit-size profile is lending itself to both programs.

Golden Delicious apples are a popular variety from Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers. (Photo courtesy of Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers)

In mid-November Mr. Wohlford told The Produce News that pears were mixed as far as volume, but sales have been strong.

“For us, sizing is about as expected,” he said, referring to the cool spring weather that contributed to smaller fruit.

“Bartlett’s peaked on 100s, then 90s and 80s,” he said of count box size. “Bosc and Anjous look to be peaking on smaller sizes, too.”

He added that summer Bartletts were down in numbers so far in 2011, but Mr. Wohlford said, “Bosc volume is way up this year for us and for the industry overall. Red and Green Anjous are down.”

He said that overall pear movement has been good.

“As we finish up Bartletts, the Anjou, Bosc and Red Anjou really sell well for us, and right now we look to have fruit into April,” he said of supplies.

For the 2011 holiday season, Oneonta is promoting both Pear the Taste and the applesnaQ and pearsnaQ programs.

“We are using both programs to help retailers sell more pears,” Mr. Wohlford said, adding that Pear the Taste is a particular favorite during holiday party time.

“It really lends itself well to the holiday selling season, and the design is very elegant,” he said of Oneonta Graphic Designer Jill Morrison’s creation. “We will be promoting Comice, Seckel and Forelle varieties. These are super-sweet pears and are great for special holiday desserts.”

As January rolls around, he said, “The snaQ program will be timely as kids go back to school from Christmas break.”

In the apple category, the last of the late-season Fujis and Cripps Pinks were nearly ready to bring in during mid-November, and Mr. Wohlford said that weather was holding.

“We’ll make it there,” he said of getting all the apples in.

The cool spring also affected apple sizes, and Mr. Wohlford said, “We thought the crop would size up a little small this year, and we were pretty accurate there.”

There were no big losses due to cold setting in during harvest, either.

“We were somewhat worried about fruit not being ready, but Mother Nature came through for us in the end with just the right temperatures to bring on the sugars and color, especially the Galas,” he said.

And, Mr. Wohlford added, “Movement has been robust, and we’re keeping up. Jonagolds have been real strong for us this season.”

Apples are a big favorite in the snaQ program, and Mr. Wohlford said, “Our customers across the country are seeing great success with the program. Consumers really react well to the tote-bag design, and they see multiple uses for the bag after purchasing the apples.”