A new pear variety is hitting store shelves in February, marketed under the brand name Mardi Gras by Domex Superfresh Growers of Yakima, Washington. 

The winter pear variety, which has European favorite Conference as a parent, has a classic bottle shape and russet coloring over a green background. It has a very sweet flavor and juicy texture, and the name aims to invoke a sense of celebration, said Cat Gipe-Stewart, director of marketing for Domex Superfresh Growers. 

Volume is limited this first season, but there’s potential for the variety to become a year-round program, she said.

“We hope to invigorate the pear category by bringing innovation and new flavor,” she said. 

In other club variety news, the SugarBee apple program is expanding this year. Chelan Fruit, which licensed the variety from Regal Fruit International, redefined its sublicense agreement to start selling the apple through CMI and Sage Fruit Co. marketing desks as well, said Tom Oliver, general manager of Chelan Fruit and president of the Pacific Northwest tree fruit operations for International Farming, the investment firm that owns both Chelan Fruit and Legacy Fruit, one of the partners in Sage Fruit Co. 

“The SugarBee variety is high in demand and hitting its stride,” Oliver said in a statement to Good Fruit Grower. Partnering with other marketing desks will increase demand and enable Chelan Fruit to provide better returns to growers, he said, and also positions the apple well for a long-term, year-round national program.

“In order to meet growing demand for SugarBee, Chelan Fruit will extend planting while maintaining levels that optimize grower returns,” Oliver said. 

Grower Scott McDougall, whose company, McDougall and Sons in Wenatchee, Washington, is a partner in CMI, said he was looking forward to the opportunity to grow the apple. Proven varieties that can command a premium return are important as growers face escalating costs of production, he said. 

by Kate Prengaman