Recent news from the World Apple and Pear Association (WAPA) show a 19% projected decline in pear production in the European Union (E.U.), making this year’s crop potentially the lowest in a decade. Closer to home, the Pacific Northwest pear crop is projected to see an 11% decrease. Factoring in California’s lower crop expectations and the U.S. fresh pear production may see a 15% decline compared to last season. This world supply scenario is good news for pear growers in the Northwest.

While the Northwest production is only 2% lower than the five-year average, when you include California’s lower crop, the U.S. fresh pear production is expected to be 3% below the five-year average. However, the lower crops in Europe are what make the production picture more interesting.

Not only are our largest E.U. export markets expecting decreases, such as Sweden down by 55%, and Germany and the UK both down by 14%; countries that compete with us on the export front are also down, opening up opportunities. For example, Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium are down 24%, 11% and 26% respectively. These three markets are heavy competitors to one of our fastest growing export markets—Russia. In addition, the Portuguese crop is down 40%, which is important as they compete heavily with USA Pears shipped to Brazil, another one of our top-five export markets.

The Pear Bureau will be taking the opportunity with this year’s lower world supply to be aggressive in our traditional export markets where we compete with the E.U. as well as tapping into emerging markets in eastern Russia, the Middle East, and even North Africa. While the world continues to be mired in recession, there are some bright spots in some of the world economies as well as in the United States and we have excellent promotion strategies lined up worldwide to help marshal a good season for our pear growers.

All pears all the time, Kevin