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For the first time, more Northwest-grown Bartlett pears headed into the fresh market than the processing market last year.

Processors canned just under 100,000 tons and packers took just over 100,000 tons, B.J. Thurlby, manager of the Processing Pear Committee, told the committee’s board at its annual meeting in Portland on Wednesday.

That’s the result of a 30-year trend of continued decline in canned pear production, he said.

“A big issue, I’d say our biggest issue, is the influx of fruit coming in from other countries,” Thurlby said, citing Chinese imports.

One piece of good news is that those Chinese imports now face a 40 percent tariff, up from 15 percent thanks to the Trump Administration’s ongoing trade war.

Northwest Horticultural Council president Mark Powers told the board that U.S. Department of Agriculture set that extra tariff since canned pears were already on its list of trade sensitive products.

The Processing Pear Committee continues to focus its promotion program on the message of buying American-grown fruit, targeting primarily K-12 schools and also exploring the military market.

—by Kate Prengaman