Pear conditioning standards set
The Pacific Northwest pear industry has adopted minimum standards for the conditioning of d’Anjou pears.
Starting this season, all fresh red and green d’Anjou pears sold as “conditioned” must have been treated with a minimum of 100 parts per million of ethylene for 24 hours with an average pear pulp temperature of 65°F before and during enthylene introduction.
This is a minimum standard, allowing shippers the flexibility to exceed the standard as grower lots and the season might dictate, according to information from the Pear Bureau Northwest.
The new standard is based on years of study by researchers in Washington, Oregon, and California. The Pear Bureau has been actively encouraging pear ripening since 2001 and compiled a library of research and information about ripening in order to develop detailed ripening guidelines. Today, between 35 and 40 percent of the green d’Anjous and 10 percent of the Northwest Bartletts are conditioned before they reach the retail shelf.
“Conditioned” has been adopted as the official terminology within the industry. However, when communicating with consumers, terms such as “ripe” or “ripened” might be clearer, the Pear Bureau advises.
Kevin Moffitt, president of the Pear Bureau, said having an industry-wide standard for conditioning procedures would help reduce confusion about the process for ripening pears.
Research by Dr. Eugene Kupferman, postharvest specialist at Washington State University, has shown that consumers prefer ethylene-conditioned d’Anjou pears to untreated pears of the same firmness. His studies showed that most consumers want pears that will ripen within four days of purchase and few were willing to wait five to six days for a pear to ripen. Consumers said they were willing to pay more for ripe pears.
The Pear Bureau offers ripening tools and training to retailers, wholesalers, and distributors. For information call (503) 652-9720.