With harvest underway, Pear Bureau Northwest announced the first official estimate of the 2022–23 fresh pear crop for Washington and Oregon. According to a news release, the industry’s fresh pear estimate is 16.2 million standard box equivalents, which is in line with the five-year average.

The organic pear estimate calls for 1,823,000 standard box equivalents, or 11 percent of the total projected Northwest crop.

Across all regions, harvest started in mid-August for summer varieties, including Starkrimson and Bartlett, and growers will begin to pick Bosc, Green Anjou and Red Anjou in early- to mid-September. Specialty pears such as Comice, Seckel, Forelle and Concorde will also be available in September.

“Our growers and shippers understand that consumers buy with their eyes, but flavor is what brings them back for more,” said Kevin Moffitt, president and CEO of the pear bureau. “To meet consumer demands for sweet and juicy pears to enjoy one to three days from purchase, the industry continues to expand and promote the conditioning program, which is proven to increase retail sales and enhance the consumer eating experience.”

As pandemic-related restrictions ease, the pear bureau has focused on in-person planning meetings with retailers nationwide.

“The produce industry values personal relationships,” said Bob Catinella, director of merchandising. “Some of this was lost the last couple of years, so we are working hard to reconnect and to develop creative programs that continue increasing consumption of the Northwest pear crop.”

Domestic promotions will capitalize on the latest trends and innovations in digital marketing as well as in-store displays across the U.S. The season kicked off with the launch of a new augmented reality experience, a new social media campaign, expanded online shopping programs with banner ads and other marketing promotions, and updated display bins featuring QR codes that lead shoppers to short videos introducing the growers who produce USA Pears.

“Consumers continue to be very interested in knowing where their food comes from and who grows it,” said Moffitt. “These videos bring them right into the beautiful orchards of the Pacific Northwest to meet the growers who take such great care and pride to bring fresh pears to the marketplace.”

The QR codes also steer consumers to an online collection of more than 400 recipes. Special promotions will include the annual celebration of pear pizza during National Pizza Month in October, World Pear Day on Dec. 3, and baking and entertaining during the holidays.

The pear bureau’s export team continues to look for new and innovative ways to reach consumers and build on the past season’s success with digital consumer outreach activities in markets around the world. Key export markets include Mexico, Canada and the Central American region.

by Jonelle Mejica