Today’s retailers are interested in new varieties of produce. They have seen many introductions recently, especially in the apple and grape categories, and each season our team is asked about any new pear varieties available.
But while there have been a couple of introductions and test plantings, new pear varieties lag behind some other produce items.
This year we will talk to the retailers about “ripe Anjou” being the new pear variety.
Many retailers, not to mention consumers, have never enjoyed a ripe Anjou pear, which is a sweet and juicy treat. Retailers stocking green and red Anjou pears that have been conditioned can give consumers what they want: a wonderful eating experience that can rival anything in today’s modern produce department.
The flavor and the eating experience of a pear is what can set us apart from a thousand other items in a produce department, all vying for the consumer’s attention.
Consumers buy with their eyes but come back for the flavor. A ripe Anjou can deliver that delicious eating experience and bring them back for more.
Additionally, 71 percent of consumers want to eat their pears within one to three days of purchase. Conditioning pears with ethylene can bring out that flavor sooner and more consistently, both at retail and in consumers’ homes.
My career in the produce industry started as a technical service representative for Dole, teaching retailers and wholesalers how to ripen Dole bananas. I understand the science as well as the importance of fruit ripening.
We have made good progress over the years, starting with collecting the existing research on pear conditioning and then developing a pear ripening manual and instructions for conditioning pears. I have also contracted with a ripening consultant, since 2001, to work with shippers and retailers on the best practices for ripening pears.
Over the years, we have funded new research as well, working with top postharvest researchers from Washington State University, Oregon State University and the University of California, Davis.
I am proud of the progress we have made in getting conditioned pears to 43 retailers across the U.S. and Canada, including seven new accounts this past season. However, there is a lot more work to be done, and we are up to the challenge.
We are looking forward to the new pear harvest and the Pear Bureau Northwest team has a full range of activities to help retailers capitalize on their pear category, as well as to attract consumer attention before, during and after shoppers are in the stores.
Some exciting new promotions include making our website recipes shoppable, so that consumers can click to buy all of the ingredients in a recipe from our website and have them delivered to their door. This keeps us on trend with the growth of online shopping and meal kit delivery, all from usapears.org.
We will also be experimenting with geotargeted mobile messaging. This program sends messages to consumers’ phones, reminding them to buy pears when they walk into a supermarket. Consumers opt in to this program.
We will continue our social media advertising, reaching consumers with short videos about pear selection, ripening and nutrition. Effective promotions revolving around retailers’ loyalty cards and third-party coupon apps such as Ibotta will be expanded as well.
The consumers buying 74 percent of USA Pears are 25 to 45 years old, with the majority under 34. These innovative promotions resonate well with these core consumers.
It all starts with retailers engaging with our regional marketing manager team to receive a custom business analysis that highlights opportunities for increasing their pear category.
We will continue 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 the pear’s beautiful shape, colors and flavors, delighting them and bringing them back for more pears more often.
The time is ripe for pears and we are primed and ready for a successful and profitable pear season.
All pears all the time. •
—by Kevin Moffitt
Kevin Moffitt is the president and CEO of the Pear Bureau Northwest.