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Kevin Moffitt

The Pear Bureau is celebrating 85 years of promoting the beautiful and delicious pears nurtured by our growers in Washington and Oregon each year.

We employ a variety of proven and effective tools, techniques and strategies designed to increase consumer awareness and consumption of Northwest pears on behalf of fresh pear producers in the Pacific Northwest.

We conduct large-scale initiatives that help sell pears, such as retail display contests and sampling activities, including this year’s inaugural worldwide sampling day, which we implemented during national pear month in December.

But we go beyond in-store sampling and promotion with other attention-getting and innovative activities, like a virtual reality experience developed this year to show at retail and consumer events, giving people a 360-degree immersion view of harvest and the packing house, all from the pear’s perspective.

We have a robust social media campaign on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

Another important component of our social media program is our YouTube channel dedicated to pears with grower videos, recipes and educational videos. Additionally, we developed and manage the world’s largest website dedicated to pears, which gets nearly 400,000 visits per year. All of our social media efforts are designed to get consumers engaged and interacting with us.

While we work closely with the sales organizations to increase the effectiveness of the grower’s investment in marketing and promotions, we also execute tactics that the sales organizations may not conduct such as national and worldwide advertising on billboards, full-page magazine ads, cooking shows and in-store radio advertising.

We have a robust media communications program designed to get stories about pears and recipes published in national magazines, on the internet and by nutritionists, which many retailers now employ.

Between 35 and 40 percent of Northwest pears are sold outside the United States. These exports have grown over the years thanks to exciting and effective activities implemented by the export team and our 12 overseas representatives around the world.

These programs have been developed with the support of grant funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Our export team averages about $3 million in grant funds each year awarded by the USDA in a competitive process.

The funds and programs help our team expand markets worldwide for fresh pears with programs in 30 countries outside of the U.S.

The Pear Bureau funds are made possible and collected through a federal marketing order. In fact, it is the oldest continuously running marketing order in the United States.

Our growers in Washington and Oregon have been collaborating for decades to help increase the consumption of fresh pears and help keep pear growing a profitable business now and in years to come.

The marketing order not only supports funding for promotion but also collects funds for research.

Approximately $700,000 is generated by the marketing order each season supporting pre- and postharvest research on such issues as new variety development, rootstocks, pear psylla and storage scald.

The marketing order also allows for collective reporting on pear crop estimates as well as size and grade, shipment and inventory reports. These are very helpful for sales organizations to understand the entire market beyond their internal inventory, allowing for smoother and more profitable marketing of the fresh pear crop each season.

The USDA stipulates that growers get a chance to vote every six years on whether to continue the marketing order. This year is your chance to vote. For more than eight decades, growers have chosen to work together, which has been very effective, especially in recent years. In fact, the average price per ton for fresh pears has more than doubled since 2000.

Pear growers will receive ballots in February and we encourage you to make your voice heard. We also invite and encourage you to get involved.

Become a member of the Fresh Pear Committee or Pear Bureau board, participate in our meetings or be a volunteer at a consumer event. Many consumers want to meet the growers who produce their food. They are very interested in what you do for a living.

If you ever have any questions or want to know more about what we do, reach out. We love what we do and we are there for you.

All pears, all the time. •

– by Kevin Moffitt, manager of the Fresh Pear Committee of Marketing Order 927 and president of Pear Bureau Northwest. Contact him at kmoffitt@usapears.com.