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During the Pear Bureau Northwest’s annual meeting in Portland, Oregon, last summer, its regional managers proposed ideas on how to strengthen demand for Comice pears.

Tim Corkill, regional manager for the West and Southwest, suggested that the variety needs to be reintroduced to the market with small, one-layer packages, similar to gift packs, and through sampling programs. This ties in with the Pear Bureau’s plan to do more in-store sampling this season.

“Retailers are looking for uniqueness and new varieties,” Corkill told growers at the meeting. “It may still be a Comice, but how do you repackage and reenergize it? I think you have a great story to tell about that particular variety and how it translates to a wonderful ­eating experience for the consumer.”

Ed Chambers, regional manager for the Midwest, also thought Comice should be reintroduced to the market in a gift box or other type of special package, because most people have never tried a Comice. “If you have a lot of Comice, this is a good year to try it,” he said.

Bob Koehler, regional manager for the Northeast and Canada, said retailers set a dollar amount for each produce item to achieve on a weekly basis, and if it doesn’t reach that figure, their first thought is to discontinue it. He suggested that Comice be presented to retailers as an item to feature for just two or three months—perhaps around the holiday ­season—instead of season long.

He sees opportunities to target selected retailers that are aggressive in their thinking and can move Comice, and perhaps sample two varieties of pears so that shoppers can taste the difference between a Comice and a d’Anjou.

“Retailers keep asking us, ‘What do you have that’s new and different?’ My response is, ‘You haven’t maxed out on what you’ve got. Let’s focus on Comice or Concorde, or red pears.’”