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To be truly successful in any business, it is essential to know your customer or consumer and double down on what delights them.

Kevin Moffitt

Based on research commissioned by the Northwest Pear Bureau, we know that the consumers buying 74 percent of USA Pears are 25 to 45 years old with the majority under 34. Moreover, we know that they are delighted when they consume a tasty pear, whether that be a sweet and juicy Bartlett, a tangy sweet Anjou or a crispy sweet Bosc. Our mission at the Pear Bureau is to get more people in the U.S. and around the world to purchase more USA Pears and be delighted when they consume them.

The industry buzz right now is around pear flavor and getting the best tasting fruit into consumers’ hands and stomachs! With this in mind, the Pear Bureau will be focusing resources on a refresh of the pear category, capitalizing on industry momentum, a larger crop and renewed retail interest.

A cornerstone of this refresh will revolve around the initiative to get consistently great tasting fruit into consumers’ hands. While a good-looking piece of fruit or a big, beautiful display may catch the consumer’s eye and generate a purchase, a great-tasting piece of fruit will bring them back for more. Consumers want tasty pears and they do not want to wait a week for them to ripen. In fact, our latest consumer research shows that 36 percent of consumers want to eat their pears in one to two days of purchase, and 90 percent want to eat them within four days of purchase.

One good way to satisfy consumers’ desire for tasty fruit soon after purchase is through a conditioned pear program that gets consistent, riper fruit on the retail shelves. The Pear Bureau will be embarking on an aggressive reintroduction of the conditioned pear program this season. There currently are 42 retailers in the U.S. and Canada who are carrying conditioned pears. This is a good base, but it has not been increasing very fast in the past few years. However, there is much more discussion at the industry level about ripening, and the Pear Bureau will be refreshing and updating the program with new material and the distribution of retail success stories.

Many retailers also understand the consumer’s desire for ripe, great-tasting fruit, so we will be redoubling our efforts to show them how they can achieve that through a conditioning program. This year, we will also be coordinating with the Mango Board so that we can talk to the retailers with a broader voice about the importance of getting ripe fruit into consumers’ hands. Research, and actual retail results, have shown pear sales increases of 19 percent to 25 percent when a retailer commits to a conditioned pear program.

After four years of lower than average crops, the fresh pear estimate for the upcoming season is projecting a good, full crop close to a five-year average. We are taking the opportunity of this abundant crop to refresh the pear category in the minds of the industry, the retailer and the consumer.

Our promotional seasons will be divided into three distinct campaigns this year. In September, messaging around Hand-Picked, Hand-Packed Pears will be distributed through our social media communications as well as our media and retailer outreach. The campaign will include video stories from the orchard and the packing house, highlighting the unique story and beautiful nature of the Northwest pear industry. We have retail social media contacts already excited to share these straight-from-the-grower and orchard vignettes.

Holiday Ins-Pear-ation will be the theme with promotions and consumer messaging during November and December, with pears taking center stage on the consumer’s holiday table in a recipe or a beautiful pear decoration. December is National Pear Month and we will launch the monthlong celebration with World Pear Day kicking off Dec. 1.

After the first of the year, our promotions and communications will include a strong nutrition campaign highlighting our American Heart Healthy certified pears, packed full of fiber and goodness with a taste profile to rival any fruit. Throughout the season, our campaigns will include digital advertising, video and imagery to fit the season, and focused content to inspire pear shoppers. We are also working hard to get pears included in more menus in restaurants, grocerants as well as meal kit menus, keeping pears relevant in many food service and retail formats.

With a good crop, a great message and an excellent product, we are going to reaffirm to retailers the potential pears have in their stores. Consumers will be reached in store and on their screens with the story of USA Pears backed up by pears’ beautiful shape, colors and flavors, delighting them and bringing them back for more pears more often. The time is indeed ripe for pears and we are primed and ready for a successful and profitable pear season.

Kevin Moffitt is president and CEO of USA Pears, based in Portland, Oregon. He can be reached at kmoffitt@usapears.com