As we move into our prime promotion season, some positive things are happening in the world of pears.

We recently finished up a great Produce Marketing Association convention in Atlanta, Georgia. There were over 18,000 people at this show. We have an attractive booth that drew a lot of visitors. We see many of our domestic retail contacts and get a chance to talk to them about the crop and promotions.

We also see importers and retailers from our top international markets. There was a big contingent from Mexico and retail groups from Canada, as well as large numbers of visitors from some of our newest, dynamic markets like Russia and India. Importers from Brazil, the Middle East, and Central America also stopped by our booth. It is really quite an active show for us.

Other encouraging events that happened recently included the passage of the free trade agreements with Korea, Panama, and Colombia. While our pears are not allowed into Korea, we expect to see a good jump in exports to Panama and Colombia this year with passage of these agreements. Even more important was the elimination of the last 10 percent duty that has been on pear imports to Mexico for the past 2½ years. With the elimination of duties in Mexico, we should see an additional 300,000 to 500,000 boxes entering that market this year.

We have many great programs in play to get things off and running and are looking forward to a very good pear season.

All pears all the time,