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Retailers gear up for winter shift in pear varieties and packaging

Winter months mark a significant shift in the overall pear category. Pear sales in winter are nearly as strong as the fall; however, industry officials note there is a significant shift in pear varieties and packaging as retailers transition from focusing primarily on Bartlett pears to selling key winter varieties like Anjou, Bosc and other niche pear varieties.CMI-Pears-at-Retail

According to Steve Lutz, Vice President of Marketing at CMI, the key for retailers in maintaining pear category performance is to pivot quickly to winter pear varieties while leveraging the emerging opportunities in new pear packaging.

“Winter marks the major category transition from Bartlett’s to Anjou and Bosc,” Lutz said in a press release. “National retail performance data reveals that while pear category dollars decline only slightly (down 7 percent) between Q4 and Q1, Bartlett sales drop by nearly 50 percent while Anjou dollars soar by 83 percent. Getting this product transition right in terms of displays and packaging is the key for supermarkets to maintain pear category performance.”

Lutz said that the emergence of new pear packaging is changing how retailers build pear displays and drive overall category growth. He said over the past few years retailers have discovered that high-graphic two-pound pear pouch bags drive sales — in fact they have been among the fastest-growing segments of the pear category.

“When we look at best-in-class pear retailers in the United States, two trends jump out,” Lutz said in the release. “The best-in-class retailers are growing their pear category much faster than competitors. Secondly, they dominate by merchandising two-pound pouch bags without damaging sales in the profitable bulk pear segment. These top retailers sell more bulk pears to drive category dollars but shift consumers away from larger value bags into higher priced two-pound pouches.”

Lutz said Q1 is the strongest quarter of the year for both Anjou and Bosc pears. “We’re entering the months where retailers can really drive incremental consumer purchases of winter pears, especially if they leverage the smaller, high-quality, two-pound pouches. Last year we saw best-in-class retailers driving up to 25 percent of their total Anjou sales in these smaller pouch bags."